Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

The End of Salience?

Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

The End of Salience?

Article excerpt

VISUAL ATTENTION

A red disk "pops out" in a field of green disks, drawing attention and, probably, your eyes. Similar effects are produced if any of a variety of other features make an item highly salient because of a strong contrast with neighboring items. Influential studies (e.g., Itti & Koch, 2000, Vis Res 40:1489) have shown that a salience map is readily computable from measurements made in early stages of visual processing. These maps, it is proposed, play an important role in the deployment of attention and the eyes. However, bottom-up salience could never be a complete theory of attention deployment. In a field of heterogeneous colored spots, for instance, top-down guidance clearly could deploy attention to red, green, and purple items in turn, with no change in bottom-up salience.

Now a new attack on salience, exemplified by Einhauser et al., argues that it becomes irrelevant when the stimuli are meaningful scenes. They asked observers about the objects in a scene, used that information to create an "object map," and recorded eye movements while the observers either made an aesthetic judgment about a photograph or searched for a hard-tofind object. …

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