July 2013
Volume 13, Issue 9
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2013
An Eye Movement Continuum from Exploration to Fixation
Author Affiliations
  • Jorge Otero-Millan
    Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA\nSignal Theory and Communications, University of Vigo, Vigo, Spain
  • Stephen L Macknik
    Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA\nNeurosurgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA
  • Rachel E Langston
    Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA\nUniversity of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
  • Susana Martinez-Conde
    Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA
Journal of Vision July 2013, Vol.13, 1340. doi:10.1167/13.9.1340
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    • Get Citation

      Jorge Otero-Millan, Stephen L Macknik, Rachel E Langston, Susana Martinez-Conde; An Eye Movement Continuum from Exploration to Fixation. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):1340. doi: 10.1167/13.9.1340.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

During visual exploration, saccadic eye movements scan the scene for objects of interest. During attempted fixation, the eyes are relatively still but often produce microsaccades. Saccadic rates during exploration are higher than those of microsaccades during fixation, reinforcing the classic view that exploration and fixation are two distinct oculomotor behaviors. An alternative model, heretofore untested, is that fixation and exploration are not dichotomous, but are instead two extremes of a functional continuum. Here, we measured the eye movements of human observers as they either fixed their gaze on a fixation spot, or scanned natural scenes of varying sizes. As scene size diminished, so did saccade rates, until they were continuous with microsaccadic rates during fixation. Other saccadic properties varied as function of image size as well, forming a continuum with microsaccadic parameters during fixation. This saccadic continuum extended to non-restrictive, ecological viewing conditions that allowed all types of saccades and fixation positions. Eye movement simulations moreover showed that a single model of oculomotor behavior can explain the saccadic continuum from exploration to fixation, for images of all sizes. These findings challenge the view that exploration and fixation are dichotomous, suggesting instead that visual fixation is functionally equivalent to visual exploration on a spatially focused scale.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013

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