While previous study of vision and attention disregarded individual factors such as sex, race and age, Laurent Itti and doctoral student John Shen from the University of Southern California (USC), demonstrated that men and women pay visual attention in different ways.

Itti's lab studied 34 participants as they watched videos of people being interviewed. Behind the interview subjects, within the video frame, pedestrians, bicycles and cars passed by. The distractions were included to pull attention away from the filmed conversation, the journal Vision Research reported.

While participants watched and listened to the interview, another camera was pointed at participants' eyes, recording the movement of their pupils as they glanced across the screen, according to a university statement.

Researchers discovered that men, when focused on the person being interviewed, parked their eyes on the speaker's mouth. They tended to be most distracted by distinctive movement behind the interview subjects.

Conversely, women shift their focus between the interview subject's eyes and body. When they were distracted, it was typically by other people entering the video frame.

Itti, associate professor of computer science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, runs its iLab, dedicated to gaining insight into biological brain function through the use of computational modelling.

(Agencies)

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