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Lotje van der Linden, Gregory Zelinsky, Françoise Vitu; Viewing-position effects in meaningless object viewing. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):847. doi: 10.1167/16.12.847.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Observers prefer to send their eyes near the centers of words and objects (preferred viewing location/PVL effect). Central landing positions, in turn, lower the chance that participants refixate the word or object (optimal viewing position/OVP effect) and prolong the duration of the first fixation (inverted OVP/I-OVP effect). Researchers debate whether these viewing-position effects reflect intentional eye-movement behavior that adapts to ongoing word/object processing, or automatic visuomotor tendencies that occur regardless of word/object content. In favor of the latter account, all viewing-position effects were found to generalize to the scanning of meaningless letter strings. But does this also hold for meaningless non-object viewing? The current study answered this question by comparing eye-movement behavior towards real objects versus meaningless non-objects. We reasoned that similarities would reflect visuomotor constraints, whereas differences would reflect higher-level processing. Participants performed a saccade-target task towards isolated stimuli that were presented at 3° or 5° in the periphery. We measured initial landing positions, and how these influenced fixation durations and refixation behavior. Objects were Hemera pictures that were matched for pixel area (mean width: 1.51°; mean height: 1.44°). Non-objects were similarly-sized discs that were matched to the corresponding real objects in pixel area and texture (using a texture-synthesis algorithm), and therefore had no semantic content. We found that for both objects and non-objects, initial landing positions did not deviate significantly from the stimulus' center, reflecting a central PVL. Furthermore, we found that refixation probability increased (OVP), and initial-fixation duration decreased (I-OVP), with increasing distance between the initial landing position and the stimulus' center. This was the case for both objects and non-objects, suggesting that OVP and I-OVP effects also generalize to meaningless non-object viewing. We conclude that these viewing-position effects are indeed universal tendencies that reflect low-level visuomotor mechanisms instead of ongoing object-/ word-recognition processes.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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