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Emotional faces and their influence on directing joint attention, a systematic review



To identify and analyze international studies that investigate the focus of attention, shared attention and its relationship with emotional faces.


A systematic review was performed based on the PRISMA method guidelines. The bases: PubMed and PsycInfo (APA), were used to identify the studies, based on the descriptors in English: “joint attention”, “attentional network”, “gaze”, “emotion” and “experimental” combined with the Boolean AND.


249 articles were located, of which 223 were excluded in the selection process, 26 were read in full and selected as eligible to compose this sample. Shared attention plays an important role in child development that reverberates into adulthood. In shared attention, not only the focus of attention is shared, but also the immediate and short-term goals, providing data regarding intentions towards other objects and people in the environment. Physical changes to the face, such as changes in gaze, play a role in the confidence rating. When eye contact happens, it modulates reward-related neural circuits that are expressed when pleasant faces are presented.


Shared attention is influenced by facial expressions outlined by another subject. Pleasant (happy) stimuli are responded to more quickly than angry stimuli, because there is a dopaminergic activation activated by these stimuli, and the expression of fear increases the effect of another person's gaze towards the observer's attention, which can be explained by through learning or natural selection.

Joint attention; gaze direction; emotional faces

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