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Markku Kilpeläinen, Christian N. L. Olivers, Jan Theeuwes; The eyes like their targets on a stable background. Journal of Vision 2013;13(6):5. doi: 10.1167/13.6.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In normal human visual behavior, our visual system is continuously exposed to abrupt changes in the local contrast and mean luminance in various parts of the visual field, as caused by actual changes in the environment, as well as by movements of our body, head, and eyes. Previous research has shown that both threshold and suprathreshold contrast percepts are attenuated by a co-occurring change in the mean luminance at the location of the target stimulus. In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that contrast targets presented with a co-occurring change in local mean luminance receive fewer fixations than targets presented in a region with a steady mean luminance. To that end we performed an eye-tracking experiment involving eight observers. On each trial, after a 4 s adaptation period, an observer's task was to make a saccade to one of two target gratings, presented simultaneously at 7° eccentricity, separated by 30° in polar angle. When both targets were presented with a steady mean luminance, saccades landed mostly in the area between the two targets, signifying the classic global effect. However, when one of the targets was presented with a change in luminance, the saccade distribution was biased towards the target with the steady luminance. The results show that the attenuation of contrast signals by co-occurring, ecologically typical changes in mean luminance affects fixation selection and is therefore likely to affect eye movements in natural visual behavior.
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