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Department of Cognitive Science

Gaze following: automatic or top-down?

Eye gaze following is vital for smooth social interactions as it can indicate sources of threat, underlying attitudes, points of interest and so on. As such, it’s not so surprising that infants begin to follow another person’s gaze from 4 months of age. Given the early development of this gaze following ability, my research is concerned with investigating whether the capacity to follow eye-gaze information is automatic (innate) or top-down (learnt). To investigate this question, we ask, can gaze following occur when the gaze information is non-conscious? If so, is gaze following under non-conscious conditions driven by similar mechanisms to gaze following under conscious conditions? Further, do the same neural underpinnings govern non-concious and conscious gaze following? We investigate these research questions using both behavioural (response latency) measures and electroencephalography (EEG).

Image of a baby following the gaze of an experimenter

The capacity to follow eye gaze information occurs early in development


Gaze cue stimuli used in experimental paradigm

The task we use to investigate gaze following.



Al-Janabi, S., & Finkbeiner, M. (2012). Effective processing of masked eye gaze requires volitional control. Experimental Brain Research, 216(3), 433-443.