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Jacob M. Paul, Robert A. Reeve, Jason D. Forte; Taking a(c)count of eye movements: Multiple mechanisms underlie fixations during enumeration. Journal of Vision 2017;17(3):16. doi: 10.1167/17.3.16.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
We habitually move our eyes when we enumerate sets of objects. It remains unclear whether saccades are directed for numerosity processing as distinct from object-oriented visual processing (e.g., object saliency, scanning heuristics). Here we investigated the extent to which enumeration eye movements are contingent upon the location of objects in an array, and whether fixation patterns vary with enumeration demands. Twenty adults enumerated random dot arrays twice: first to report the set cardinality and second to judge the perceived number of subsets. We manipulated the spatial location of dots by presenting arrays at 0°, 90°, 180°, and 270° orientations. Participants required a similar time to enumerate the set or the perceived number of subsets in the same array. Fixation patterns were systematically shifted in the direction of array rotation, and distributed across similar locations when the same array was shown on multiple occasions. We modeled fixation patterns and dot saliency using a simple filtering model and show participants judged groups of dots in close proximity (2°–2.5° visual angle) as distinct subsets. Modeling results are consistent with the suggestion that enumeration involves visual grouping mechanisms based on object saliency, and specific enumeration demands affect spatial distribution of fixations. Our findings highlight the importance of set computation, rather than object processing per se, for models of numerosity processing.
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