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Tim J. Smith, Parag K. Mital; Attentional synchrony and the influence of viewing task on gaze behavior in static and dynamic scenes. Journal of Vision 2013;13(8):16. doi: 10.1167/13.8.16.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Does viewing task influence gaze during dynamic scene viewing? Research into the factors influencing gaze allocation during free viewing of dynamic scenes has reported that the gaze of multiple viewers clusters around points of high motion (attentional synchrony), suggesting that gaze may be primarily under exogenous control. However, the influence of viewing task on gaze behavior in static scenes and during real-world interaction has been widely demonstrated. To dissociate exogenous from endogenous factors during dynamic scene viewing we tracked participants' eye movements while they (a) freely watched unedited videos of real-world scenes (free viewing) or (b) quickly identified where the video was filmed (spot-the-location). Static scenes were also presented as controls for scene dynamics. Free viewing of dynamic scenes showed greater attentional synchrony, longer fixations, and more gaze to people and areas of high flicker compared with static scenes. These differences were minimized by the viewing task. In comparison with the free viewing of dynamic scenes, during the spot-the-location task fixation durations were shorter, saccade amplitudes were longer, and gaze exhibited less attentional synchrony and was biased away from areas of flicker and people. These results suggest that the viewing task can have a significant influence on gaze during a dynamic scene but that endogenous control is slow to kick in as initial saccades default toward the screen center, areas of high motion and people before shifting to task-relevant features. This default-like viewing behavior returns after the viewing task is completed, confirming that gaze behavior is more predictable during free viewing of dynamic than static scenes but that this may be due to natural correlation between regions of interest (e.g., people) and motion.
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