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dekel abeles, Roy Amit, Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg; Oculomotor behavior during non-visual tasks: the role of visual saliency. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1199. doi: 10.1167/18.10.1199.
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During visual exploration or free-view, gaze positioning is largely determined by the tendency to maximize visual saliency: more salient locations are more likely to be fixated. However, when visual input is completely irrelevant for performance, such as with non-visual tasks, this saliency maximization strategy may be less advantageous and potentially even disruptive for task-performance. Here, we examined whether visual saliency remains a strong driving force in determining gaze positions even in non-visual tasks. In three experiments, gaze position was monitored as participants performed visual or non-visual tasks while they were presented with complex or simple images. Exploratory behavior was evident even when the task was non-visual, and the visual input was entirely irrelevant. This included a strong tendency to fixate salient locations, central fixation bias and a gradual reduction in saliency for later fixations. These exploratory behaviors were spatially similar to those of an explicit visual exploration task but they were, nevertheless, attenuated. Temporal differences were also found; in the non-visual task there were longer fixations and later first fixations than in the visual task, reflecting slower visual sampling in this task. We conclude that during non-visual tasks, the visual system samples visual information at a lower rate but based on similar selection mechanisms as those that govern visually motivated tasks.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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