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Nicola C. Anderson, Walter F. Bischof, Tom Foulsham, Alan Kingstone; Turning the (virtual) world around: Patterns in saccade direction vary with picture orientation and shape in virtual reality. Journal of Vision 2020;20(8):21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.8.21.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Research investigating gaze in natural scenes has identified a number of spatial biases in where people look, but it is unclear whether these are partly due to constrained testing environments (e.g., a participant with their head restrained and looking at a landscape image framed within a computer monitor). We examined the extent to which image shape (square vs. circle), image rotation, and image content (landscapes vs. fractal images) influence eye and head movements in virtual reality (VR). Both the eyes and head were tracked while observers looked at natural scenes in a virtual environment. In line with previous work, we found a bias for saccade directions parallel to the image horizon, regardless of image shape or content. We found that, when allowed to do so, observers move both their eyes and head to explore images. Head rotation, however, was idiosyncratic; some observers rotated a lot, whereas others did not. Interestingly, the head rotated in line with the rotation of landscape but not fractal images. That head rotation and gaze direction respond differently to image content suggests that they may be under different control systems. We discuss our findings in relation to current theories on head and eye movement control and how insights from VR might inform more traditional eye-tracking studies.
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