Other’s gaze in human cognition: effects, mechanisms and therapeutic potential
A growing body of empirical evidences supports the hypothesis that others’ gaze implicitly modulates concomitant or subsequent cognitive processes and behaviors in Human. After presenting phylogenetic and ontogenetic data that underline the importance of other’s gaze in human cognition, I will question the cognitive and cerebral mechanisms subtending gaze processing. Then, I will develop the effects of other’s gaze on cognition, those related to direct gaze perception (which creates eye contact between individuals) and those related to averted gaze perception, a dichotomy whose value is however more pragmatic than theoretical. I will emphasize that these effects are mainly beneficial for cognition (e.g. improvement of memory, increase of body awareness, improvement of spatial orientation) and illustrate their therapeutic potential in Alzheimer’s disease and unilateral spatial neglect.