Face-sex categorization is better above fixation than below: Evidence from the reach-to-touch paradigm.

Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience

PubMedID: 24763922

Quek GL, Finkbeiner M. Face-sex categorization is better above fixation than below: Evidence from the reach-to-touch paradigm. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2014;.
The masked congruence effect (MCE) elicited by nonconsciously presented faces in a sex-categorization task has recently been shown to be sensitive to the effects of attention. Here we investigated how spatial location along the vertical meridian modulates the MCE for face-sex categorization. Participants made left and right reaching movements to classify the sex of a target face that appeared either immediately above or below central fixation. The target was preceded by a masked prime face that was either congruent (i.e., same sex) or incongruent (i.e., opposite sex) with the target. In the reach-to-touch paradigm, participants typically classify targets more efficiently (i.e., their finger heads in the correct direction earlier and faster) on congruent than on incongruent trials. We observed an upper-hemifield advantage in the time course of this MCE, such that primes affected target classification sooner when they were presented in the upper visual field (UVF) rather than the lower visual field (LVF). Moreover, we observed a differential benefit of attention between the vertical hemifields, in that the MCE was dependent on the appropriate allocation of spatial attention in the LVF, but not the UVF. Taken together, these behavioral findings suggest that the processing of faces qua faces (e.g., sex-categorization) is more robust in upper-hemifield locations.