Computational protocol: Interpersonal Multisensory Stimulation reduces the overwhelming distracting power of self-gaze: psychophysical evidence for ‘engazement'

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[…] Immediately after each stroking block, the participants performed the gaze-following task (GFT). During the GFT, participants sat on a comfortable chair in front of an LCD monitor, positioned at about 60 cm from their eyes. Eye position and movements were measured online monocularly through an infrared video-based system (ASL 504 Remote Tracker, Applied Science Laboratories, USA). The experiment was created with E-Prime 1.1 (Psychology Software Tools, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA) and ran on an IBM compatible computer.Each trial started with the appearance of a black central fixation square (0.44° × 0.44° in size) presented on a light gray (about 47 cd/m2) background, and two larger lateral black squares (0.67° × 0.67°) presented at 15.1° to the left and right of the center of the display (). The fixation square was presented between the eyes of a face (e.g. either the self, friend, or morph) with a straight gaze. After 575 ms, the central square color changed to either blue or red. This was the imperative signal for the participants to make a saccade toward the direction signaled by the color. The imperative cue remained visible until the end of the trial. 75 ms before the onset of the imperative cue, the distracting face made a left- or right-ward saccadic movement congruent or incongruent with the instruction. The 75 ms interval was chosen because it strongly interferes with participants' automatic oculomotor response. Importantly, the subjects were instructed to ignore the distracting stimulus and to focus on the change in color of the fixation square. To avoid that participants anticipated stimuli, a random inter-trial interval (range: 3000 to 4000 ms) was used. A practice session (discarded from statistical analyses) of 12 trials (i.e., one trial per condition) was given at the beginning of the GFT session. [...] For both Accuracy and RTs of the saccadic movements, we calculated in each subject an index of the interfering power of the observed gazes for each identity and stroking condition. For the Accuracy, we subtracted the mean ACC of the incongruent trials from the congruent ones and we normalized this difference on the mean of the congruent trials. For RTs, the index was computed as above with the only difference that we subtracted the latencies of saccadic responses in the congruent conditions from the ones obtained in the incongruent conditions. Thus, for both CE-ACC and CE-RTs indexes higher positive values indicated higher reflexive attentional capture exerted by the respective distracting gaze.All statistical analyses were run using STATISTICA 7 software. […]

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