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Blavier Adelaide, Anne-Sophie Nyssen; Memory for visual items of central or marginal interest: Impact of eye movements and subject's expertise. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):576. doi: 10.1167/9.8.576.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In complex scene, memory for central interest items is better than memory for marginal interest items and this difference remains stable independently of the scene presentation duration (Melcher, 2006). However, without eye movement recording, it is not possible to know whether central interest items are better remembered because they are more fixated or because they are more meaningful. To answer this question, we analysed the memory of complex scenes (paintings) according to the eye movements and subjects‘ expertise. 15 novice subjects and 15 art historians (experts) were asked to look at 6 paintings that were separately and randomly presented for 10 seconds. After each painting presentation, subjects were asked questions about pictorial details of 3 categories: details of central or marginal interest and background information. Although experts had prior knowledge about the paintings, the accuracy of answers about the pictorial details did not differ between both groups. We obtained a significant difference between the types of details without any effect of expertise: all subjects showed best memory for central information while they failed to remember background information and marginal details. Eye movement recordings showed subjects spent the longest time in the background zone, followed by the time spent on central target and finally by the time spent on the target of marginal interest. Despite the longest time spent in the background zone, memory for these details was poorer than for central interest items, suggesting the importance of the meaning over the fixation duration. Eye movement recordings also showed novice's answers concerning background and central information were more accurate when they looked longer at the asked detail and when this detail was watched early on in the presentation while in the expert group, the accuracy of the answer was not influenced by the duration and moment they watched the asked detail.
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