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I remember having read a article in The Economist's Science and Technology section that presented evidence to the effect that attention and learning benefits from some forms of eye contact. If I am not mistaken it cited some academic work where probands had to complete a cognitive task on a computer screen and results improved if they saw their friends' eyes on the screen as well.

Can somebody please point me to this missing article and the cited academic work?

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this is a great question on a highly fascinating topic for which evidence seemingly abounds amongst many species. from the standpoint of an evolutionary approach, the fight or flight stress response would be informed based on eye contact and movement - gauging the level of activity present in a potential predator's facial attributes.

here is a cool link on the evolutionary aspect:

and one on social signal processing as per the specific structure in the brain :

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While this does not reveal the original article it leads to many (also) relevant ones. Thx. – Drux Jan 13 '15 at 5:56

There are many benefits to attending peoples faces and eyes. It can stimulate many social cognitions which has to do with social behaviours, and emotional functioning. It also provides humans with information about other peoples emotional states which increases our likelihood of behaving appropriately.

That being said, in the context of learning and memory there has been research suggesting the opposite. In mentally taxing tasks, the research shows individuals who attend to people faces while thinking of the questions are less likely to answer accurately. Whereas, people who did not attend to peoples faces in cognitively demanding tasks did much better, as a group - statistically speaking.

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Would you mind including some references? Since the user is specifically hunting for a reference to a result they had seen. – Artem Kaznatcheev Jan 12 '15 at 4:54

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