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Pavan Ramkumar, Hugo Fernandes, Konrad Kording, Mark Segraves; Modeling peripheral visual acuity enables discovery of gaze strategies at multiple time scales during natural scene search. Journal of Vision 2015;15(3):19. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.3.19.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Like humans, monkeys make saccades nearly three times a second. To understand the factors guiding this frequent decision, computational models of vision attempt to predict fixation locations using bottom-up visual features and top-down goals. How do the relative influences of these factors evolve over multiple time scales? Here we analyzed visual features at fixations using a retinal transform that provides realistic visual acuity by suitably degrading visual information in the periphery. In a task in which monkeys searched for a Gabor target in natural scenes, we characterized the relative importance of bottom-up and task-relevant influences by decoding fixated from nonfixated image patches based on visual features. At fast time scales, we found that search strategies can vary over the course of a single trial, with locations of higher saliency, target-similarity, edge–energy, and orientedness looked at later on in the trial. At slow time scales, we found that search strategies can be refined over several weeks of practice, and the influence of target orientation was significant only in the latter of two search tasks. Critically, these results were not observed without applying the retinal transform. Our results suggest that saccade-guidance strategies become apparent only when models take into account degraded visual representation in the periphery.
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