Human faces (and voices) are critically important to our daily interactions. However, there is relatively little known about how faces (or voices) influence our attention. Some research suggests that faces can grab our attention more easily than other stimuli, and we investigate this formally here. There is also established research suggesting that the direction in which someone is looking can automatically cue the attention of an observer in the same direction. Here we examine the mechanisms for such phenomena. We examine how attention capture and gaze cueing interact with each other, and also how each may be modulated by different facial variations, including changes in expression and identity. This research provides evidence from multiple research methods that face processing recruit domain-specific attentional resources which may be limited to the processing of one face at a time. Intriguingly, more recent experiments with voices provided preliminary evidence that task-irrelevant voices, like faces, can also escape perceptual load effects – potentially indicating the existence of domain-specific attentional resources for both faces and voices.
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