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Matthew H. Tong, Oran Zohar, Mary M. Hayhoe; Control of gaze while walking: Task structure, reward, and uncertainty. Journal of Vision 2017;17(1):28. doi: 10.1167/17.1.28.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
While it is universally acknowledged that both bottom up and top down factors contribute to allocation of gaze, we currently have limited understanding of how top-down factors determine gaze choices in the context of ongoing natural behavior. One purely top-down model by Sprague, Ballard, and Robinson (2007) suggests that natural behaviors can be understood in terms of simple component behaviors, or modules, that are executed according to their reward value, with gaze targets chosen in order to reduce uncertainty about the particular world state needed to execute those behaviors. We explore the plausibility of the central claims of this approach in the context of a task where subjects walk through a virtual environment performing interceptions, avoidance, and path following. Many aspects of both walking direction choices and gaze allocation are consistent with this approach. Subjects use gaze to reduce uncertainty for task-relevant information that is used to inform action choices. Notably the addition of motion to peripheral objects did not affect fixations when the objects were irrelevant to the task, suggesting that stimulus saliency was not a major factor in gaze allocation. The modular approach of independent component behaviors is consistent with the main aspects of performance, but there were a number of deviations suggesting that modules interact. Thus the model forms a useful, but incomplete, starting point for understanding top-down factors in active behavior.
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