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Souradeep Chakraborty, Dimitris Samaras, Gregory J. Zelinsky; Weighting the factors affecting attention guidance during free viewing and visual search: The unexpected role of object recognition uncertainty. Journal of Vision 2022;22(4):13. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.4.13.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The factors determining how attention is allocated during visual tasks have been studied for decades, but few studies have attempted to model the weighting of several of these factors within and across tasks to better understand their relative contributions. Here we consider the roles of saliency, center bias, target features, and object recognition uncertainty in predicting the first nine changes in fixation made during free viewing and visual search tasks in the OSIE and COCO-Search18 datasets, respectively. We focus on the latter-most and least familiar of these factors by proposing a new method of quantifying uncertainty in an image, one based on object recognition. We hypothesize that the greater the number of object categories competing for an object proposal, the greater the uncertainty of how that object should be recognized and, hence, the greater the need for attention to resolve this uncertainty. As expected, we found that target features best predicted target-present search, with their dominance obscuring the use of other features. Unexpectedly, we found that target features were only weakly used during target-absent search. We also found that object recognition uncertainty outperformed an unsupervised saliency model in predicting free-viewing fixations, although saliency was slightly more predictive of search. We conclude that uncertainty in object recognition, a measure that is image computable and highly interpretable, is better than bottom–up saliency in predicting attention during free viewing.
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