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Mariana M. Silva, Mark F. Bradshaw, John A. Groeger; The role of action-relevance in the perception and representation of natural scenes. Journal of Vision 2002;2(7):159. doi: 10.1167/2.7.159.
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Goodman (1980) showed that action schemas influence the retention of visual information within pictures. Here, we investigate whether such schemas can also affect perceptual processing of natural scenes using the standard ‘change-blindness’ flicker paradigm. Target objects were selected as either of high or low relevance to a salient action performed by an actor within the scene. Time to detect changes which involved surface properties of objects (e.g. colour or swapping with a similar object) was compared to time to detect those which involved object identity (e.g. deletion, swapping with a different object). Eye movements were recorded throughout using a head-mounted eye tracker, and related to the detection of change and relevance of the target object to the action. Observers viewed photographs of natural scenes which displayed one action performed by an actor within them. Four objects in each scene were pre-classified to be of high or low relevance to the action and to the scene. Subjects were required to inspect each scene in order to either (i) recall or (ii) recognise the objects at a later stage. Observers were also requested to react as soon as any change was detected. Time to change detection was found to be related to object relevance as well as to the scene. In general, changes to low relevant objects were detected faster, which suggests that expected items are less attended to. Fixation position was invariably found to be near the area where the change occurred when it was detected. The data suggests that prior knowledge or assumptions about the world, organised in the form of action schemas can affect the eye movement inspection patterns of natural scenes, and the allocation of visual attention within them. These results are consistent with those reported by Hollingworth and Henderson (2000).
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