Here is more from Psyblog (here) on attention. This time on the independence of eye direction and attention.
Eye direction normally coincides with where attention is directed but it is such an important social signal that disguise is sometimes necessary. Take these for instance:
People in close proximity like rail commuters who can watch each other by adopting a fixed gaze and letting their attention wander around the visual field.
Parents keeping tabs on their children out of the corner of their eye while looking at their conversational partner.
Skilled sports people hiding their intended passes or moves by using their peripheral vision rather than looking directly…
Posner and others argued that it is our attention moving around the visual field, often remarkably independent of our actual gaze direction. Indeed even if we’re looking directly at something, and when we don’t expect to see it, we’re no more likely to notice it than if it appears on the edge of our vision…
It appears that attention can be likened to a spotlight roving across our vision like a virtual eye, just picking out the things in which it is interested; it’s not as attached to where we point our eyes as we might imagine.