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Katherine Moen, Melissa Beck; What do the Eyes Reveal? Visual Attention Strategies During Mental Rotation. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1045. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1045.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Are the attention strategies associated with better performance on a mental rotation task evident through eye movements? Previous research suggests that experts and novices use different attention strategies during mental rotation tasks. Experts tend to use feature-based strategies by only rotating select parts of objects, whereas novices tend to use more holistic rotation strategies and rotate objects in terms of the whole rather than the parts (Stieff, 2007). Additionally, some research suggests that individuals may only attended to one part of an object, specifically the top, in order to mentally rotate objects (Xu & Franconeri, 2015). The current study sought to further explore strategies during a mental rotation task by tracking eye movements. Participants viewed pairs of three dimensional block configurations and responded if the two stimuli were rotated versions of the same stimulus or two different stimuli. Behavioral results replicated previous research in that accuracy decreased and response time increased as angular disparity increased (Just & Carpenter, 1985; Stieff, 2007). Eye movement data revealed that participants' dwell times were longer on the center of the object space compared to peripheral object space. Additionally, there was a positive correlation between accuracy and dwell time on the center of the object space, suggesting more time spent looking at the center of the object space was associated with increased accuracy. Consistent with previous novice research (Stieff, 2007), participants tended to look at the center of the object space in order to use object-based attention more so than feature-based attention. Additionally, switching between objects more frequently was positively correlated with accuracy. Therefore, successful mental rotation is associated with multiple comparisons.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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