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  • Cited by 4
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Luo, Yiqi Zhang, Shen Tao, Ran and Geng, Haiyan 2016. The power of subliminal and supraliminal eye contact on social decision making: An individual-difference perspective. Consciousness and Cognition, Vol. 40, p. 131.

    Jack, Rachael E. and Schyns, Philippe G. 2015. The Human Face as a Dynamic Tool for Social Communication. Current Biology, Vol. 25, Issue. 14, p. R621.

    Feldman, Benjamin H. and Dimitropoulos, Anastasia 2014. Face Discrimination Skills in Prader-Willi Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 7, Issue. 3, p. 264.

    Jack, Rachael E. Garrod, Oliver G.B. and Schyns, Philippe G. 2014. Dynamic Facial Expressions of Emotion Transmit an Evolving Hierarchy of Signals over Time. Current Biology, Vol. 24, Issue. 2, p. 187.


Is eye contact the key to the social brain?

  • Atsushi Senju (a1) and Mark H. Johnson (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 20 December 2010

Eye contact plays a critical role in many aspects of face processing, including the processing of smiles. We propose that this is achieved by a subcortical route, which is activated by eye contact and modulates the cortical areas involve in social cognition, including the processing of facial expression. This mechanism could be impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

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A. J. Bailey , S. Braeutigam , V. Jousmaki & S. J. Swithenby (2005) Abnormal activation of face processing systems at early and intermediate latency in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: A magnetoencephalographic study. European Journal of Neuroscience 21:2575–85.

K. Chawarska & F. Shic (2009) Looking but not seeing: Atypical visual scanning and recognition of faces in 2 and 4-year old children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 39:1663–72.

M. Elsabbagh , A. Volein , G. Csibra , K. Holmboe , H. Garwood , L. Tucker , S. Krljes , S. Baron-Cohen , P. Bolton , T. Charman , G. Baird & M. H. Johnson (2009) Neural correlates of eye gaze processing in the infant broader autism phenotype. Biological Psychiatry 65:3138.

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M. H. Johnson (2005) Subcortical face processing. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6:766–74.

N. M. Kleinhans , T. Richards , L. Sterling , K. C. Stegbauer , R. Mahurin , L. C. Johnson , J. Greenson , G. Dawson & E. Aylward (2008) Abnormal functional connectivity in autism spectrum disorders during face processing. Brain 131:1000–12.

M. J. Magnée , J. J. Stekelenburg , C. Kemner & B. de Gelder (2007) Similar facial electromyographic responses to faces, voices, and body expressions. NeuroReport 18:369–72.

D. N. McIntosh , A. Reichmann-Decker , P. Winkielman & J. L. Wilbarger (2006) When the social mirror breaks: Deficits in automatic, but not voluntary, mimicry of emotional facial expressions in autism. Developmental Science 9:295302.

L. M. Oberman , P. Winkielman & V. S. Ramachandran (2009) Slow echo: Facial EMG evidence for the delay of spontaneous, but not voluntary, emotional mimicry in children with autism spectrum disorders. Developmental Science 12:510–20.

A. Senju & M. A. Johnson (2009a) The eye contact effect: Mechanisms and development. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13:127–34.

A. Senju & M. H. Johnson (2009b) Atypical eye contact in autism: Models, mechanisms and development. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 33:1204–14.

A. Senju , K. Yaguchi , Y. Tojo & T. Hasegawa (2003) Eye contact does not facilitate detection in children with autism. Cognition 89:B4351.

P. Tomalski , M. H. Johnson & G. Csibra (2009) Temporal-nasal asymmetry of rapid orienting to face-like stimuli. NeuroReport 20:1309–12.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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