I remember having read a article in The Economist's Science and Technology section that presented evidence to the effect that attention and learning benefits from some forms of eye contact. If I am not mistaken it cited some academic work where probands had to complete a cognitive task on a computer screen and results improved if they saw their friends' eyes on the screen as well.

Can somebody please point me to this missing article and the cited academic work?

  • $\begingroup$ There are many benefits to attending peoples faces and eyes. It can stimulate many social cognitions which has to do with social behaviours, and emotional functioning. It also provides humans with information about other peoples emotional states which increases our likelihood of behaving appropriately. That being said, in the context of learning and memory there has been research suggesting the opposite. In mentally taxing tasks, the research shows individuals who attend to people faces while thinking of the questions are less likely to answer accurately. Whereas, people who did not attend to $\endgroup$
    – MindsEye
    Jan 12, 2015 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


This is a great question on a highly fascinating topic for which evidence seemingly abounds among many species. From the standpoint of an evolutionary approach, the fight or flight stress response would be informed based on eye contact and movement - gauging the level of activity present in a potential predator's facial attributes.

Here is a cool link on the evolutionary aspect: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938403001562

Here is one on social signal processing as per the specific structure in the brain: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/15/9/598.short

  • $\begingroup$ While this does not reveal the original article it leads to many (also) relevant ones. Thx. $\endgroup$
    – Drux
    Jan 13, 2015 at 5:56

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