September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
The Price of Breaking the Tyranny of Film: The cognitive demand of top-down processes
Author Affiliations
  • Taylor Simonson
    Kansas State University
  • John Hutson
    Georgia State University
  • Yana Yu
    Kyoto University
  • Shunsuke Kumakiri
    Kyoto University
  • Yoshiyuki Ueda
    Kyoto University, Kokoro Research Center
  • Jun Saiki
    Kyoto University
  • Lester Loschky
    Kansas State University
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2610. doi:
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      Taylor Simonson, John Hutson, Yana Yu, Shunsuke Kumakiri, Yoshiyuki Ueda, Jun Saiki, Lester Loschky; The Price of Breaking the Tyranny of Film: The cognitive demand of top-down processes. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2610.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Film-viewers’ eye-movements seem largely disconnected from their comprehension; eye-movements rarely deviate from focal narrative elements, regardless of comprehension differences (Loschky et al., 2015; Hutson et al., 2017), termed the Tyranny of film. This suggests bottom-up film features overwhelm top-down attentional control. However, viewers’ eye-movements did deviate from focal narrative elements when given a task irrelevant to comprehension, suggesting viewers used volitional top-down control. However, do viewers naturally engage in volitional top-down control during film viewing or it is too cognitively demanding? Additionally, the role of mandatory top-down attention (e.g., culture) was investigated. Specifically, does mandatory attention have a role in film-viewing or are the bottom-up film features too strong? Participants from the US and Japan viewed film clips with different task goals and levels of attentional demand while eye-tracked. Participants had a primary goal-related task of either watching a film clip for comprehension (Comprehension Condition) or drawing a map of the film space from memory (Map Condition). Participants had a secondary task (cognitive load) on half the trials to increase attentional demand. Results show mandatory attentional selection differences, where Japanese participants were relatively more exploratory during film viewing compared to US participants. Additionally, we replicated and extended volitional attention effects of goal manipulation (Hutson, et al., 2017). Specifically, a volitional task irrelevant to comprehension created more exploration in eye-movements compared to participants who were viewing for comprehension. Finally, evidence shows volitional attention is cognitively demanding during film viewing; this was only true for our Japanese participants. Exploratory analyses showed US participants managed their cognitive load by trading off their dual-task paradigm; suggesting a lower cognitive load, which would explain our lack of an effect for US participants. In sum, the Tyranny of film can be broken, but it comes at the price of cognitively demanding tasks.


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