Viewing of figurative paintings affects pseudoneglect as measured by line bisection

Andrea Ciricugno, Chiara Ferrari, Maria Luisa Rusconi, Zaira Cattaneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurologically intact individuals usually show a leftward bias in spatial attention, known as pseudoneglect, likely reflecting a right-hemisphere dominance in the control of spatial attention. A leftward bias also seems to manifest when individuals are asked to provide aesthetic judgments about visual stimuli, like artworks. However, whether artwork perception affects the allocation of spatial attention has never been directly investigated. Here, we assessed whether viewing figurative paintings affects hemispheric imbalance in the control of spatial attention by asking participants to bisect a series of lines presented on a grey background, on figurative paintings or on non-artistic photographs of real-world scenes, while either simply observing or explicitly evaluating each image. In line with previous evidence, participants showed a leftward bisection bias in the baseline condition, reflecting pseudoneglect. Critically, the presence of a painting in the background (irrespective of whether an aesthetic evaluation was required or not) significantly shifted the bias further to the left compared to when lines were bisected over a grey background (baseline) or a photographed scene. This finding suggests that perception of visual art may affect the control of spatial attention, possibly tapping on right-hemisphere resources related to visuospatial exploration, regardless of reward apprehension mechanisms (at least when images do not evoke strong emotional reactions leading to polarized like/dislike judgements).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3795-3803
Number of pages9
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

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