Eye contact: an MEG study

Eye contact serves several important functions in complex social interaction such as the regulation of interaction, facilitation of communicational goals, and expression of intimacy and social control. Recent studies by our research group have revealed that eye contact consists of two components: 1. A visual component – the perception of another person’s gaze as directed at oneself, and 2. A mentalizing component – the belief that the other person can see oneself. The purpose of this study is to investigate the neural mechanisms behind the contribution of these two components of eye contact using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and real human persons making eye contact as stimuli. 


Project team

  • Jari Hietanen
  • Tiina Parviainen
  • Piia Astikainen
  • Simo Monto
  • Pessi Lyyra
  • Aleksi Keurulainen



  • Conty, L., George, N., & Hietanen, J. K. (2016). Watching Eyes effects: When others meet the self. Consciousness and Cognition, 45,184–197. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2016.08.016
  • Hietanen, J. K., Myllyneva, A., Helminen, T. M., & Lyyra, P. (2016). The effects of genuine eye contact on visuospatial and selective attention.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000199
  • Lyyra, P., Wirth, J. H., & Hietanen, J. K. (2016). Are you looking my way? Ostracism widens the cone of gaze. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. doi:1080/17470218.2016.1204327
  • Myllyneva, A., & Hietanen, J. K. (2015). There is more to eye contact than meets the eye. Cognition, 134, 100–109. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2014.09.011



  • Academy of Finland (MIND programme)