The Importance of Eye Contact
Eyes and gaze are crucial stimuli for human social interactions. They play a central role in social cognition, with the eye region being a significant aspect of face processing. The human face is arguably the most important visual stimulus we process every day, informing us how to behave socially. The eye region of the face represents a special area due to the extensive amount of information that can be extracted from it[^1^].
Distractions in Video Calls
The lack of eye contact in video calls can lead to distractions. When someone's gaze is averted to another direction than towards oneself, it informs us that we are not the object of interest, and the person is attending to something or someone else[^1^]. This can lead to a feeling of disconnection, which can be distracting during a video call. The viewer may start to wonder why the other person is not making eye contact and may start to pay more attention to their surroundings rather than the conversation.
Low Memory Recall
Eye contact plays a significant role in memory recall. Research has shown that direct-gaze faces are better encoded and better recognized than averted-gaze faces[^1^]. This means that when someone is looking directly at us, we are more likely to remember the information they are conveying. In a video call, the lack of direct eye contact can lead to lower memory recall, making it harder to remember the details of the conversation.
Cognitive overload refers to the strain on working memory when too much information is processed at once. In video calls, the lack of eye contact can contribute to cognitive overload. The human brain has developed a very complex cognitive system of gaze direction analysis based on perceptual elements of faces and eyes[^1^]. When this system is not engaged due to a lack of eye contact, it can lead to an overload of other cognitive processes as the brain tries to compensate for the missing information.
The lack of eye contact in video calls can lead to distractions, low memory recall, and cognitive overload. As video calls continue to be a significant mode of communication, it's essential to understand these issues and develop strategies to mitigate them. Future research should focus on finding solutions to these problems, such as developing technology that can simulate eye contact in video calls.
[^1^]: Itier, R. J., & Batty, M. (2009). Neural bases of eye and gaze processing: The core of social cognition. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 33(6), 843-863. [Link](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3925117/)