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Wolfgang Einhäuser, Charlotte Atzert, Antje Nuthmann; Fixation durations in natural scene viewing are guided by peripheral scene content. Journal of Vision 2020;20(4):15. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.4.15.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Fixation durations provide insights into processing demands. We investigated factors controlling fixation durations during scene viewing in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we tested the degree to which fixation durations adapt to global scene processing difficulty by manipulating the contrast (from original contrast to isoluminant) and saturation (original vs. grayscale) of the entire scene. We observed longer fixation durations for lower levels of contrast, and longer fixation durations for grayscale than for color scenes. Thus fixation durations were globally slowed as visual information became more and more degraded, making scene processing increasingly more difficult. In Experiment 2, we investigated two possible sources for this slow-down. We used “checkerboard” stimuli in which unmodified patches alternated with patches from which luminance information had been removed (isoluminant patches). Fixation durations showed an inverted immediacy effect (longer, rather than shorter, fixation durations on unmodified patches) along with a parafoveal-on-foveal effect (shorter fixation durations, when an unmodified patch was fixated next). This effect was stronger when the currently fixated patch was isoluminant as opposed to unmodified. Our results suggest that peripheral scene information substantially affects fixation durations and are consistent with the notion of competition among the current and potential future fixation locations.
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