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Torsten Betz, Tim C. Kietzmann, Niklas Wilming, Peter König; Investigating task-dependent top-down effects on overt visual attention. Journal of Vision 2010;10(3):15. doi: 10.1167/10.3.15.
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Different tasks can induce different viewing behavior, yet it is still an open question how or whether at all high-level task information interacts with the bottom-up processing of stimulus-related information. Two possible causal routes are considered in this paper. Firstly, the weak top-down hypothesis, according to which top-down effects are mediated by changes of feature weights in the bottom-up system. Secondly, the strong top-down hypothesis, which proposes that top-down information acts independently of the bottom-up process. To clarify the influences of these different routes, viewing behavior was recorded on web pages for three different tasks: free viewing, content awareness, and information search. The data reveal significant task-dependent differences in viewing behavior that are accompanied by minor changes in feature-fixation correlations. Extensive computational modeling shows that these small but significant changes are insufficient to explain the observed differences in viewing behavior. Collectively, the results show that task-dependent differences in the current setting are not mediated by a reweighting of features in the bottom-up hierarchy, ruling out the weak top-down hypothesis. Consequently, the strong top-down hypothesis is the most viable explanation for the observed data.
Note: FV: free viewing, CA: content awareness, IS: information search.
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