Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Eye Movement Control during Visual Object Processing: Effects of Initial Fixation Position and Semantic Constraint

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Eye Movement Control during Visual Object Processing: Effects of Initial Fixation Position and Semantic Constraint

Article excerpt

Abstract Eye movement patterns were recorded while subjects viewed arrays of line drawings of objects. The initial landing position of the eyes on an object was found to be normally distributed around the center of the object, with the modal landing position at the center. Landing variability was greater in the direction of the eye movement vector than in the direction perpendicular to the movement, and there was more of a tendency to undershoot the center of the object than to overshoot it. Landing position was found to influence other aspects of eye movement behaviour. The duration of the first fixation on an object decreased and the probability of refixating an object increased as the deviation of the initial landing position from the center of the object increased. The effect of a cognitive factor, semantic constraint, was also examined. Landing position and semantic constraint were found to interact such that semantic constraint had a greater effect the further the eyes landed from the center of the object. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for the use of eye movement behaviour as an indicator of perceptual and cognitive processing.

Resume On enregistrait les mouvements oculaires des sujets pendant qu'ils regardaient des rangees de dessins d'objets. Le point de fixation initial des yeux sur un objet etait normalement distribue autour du centre de l'objet, avec le point de fixation modal au centre. La variabilite de la fixation etait plus grande dans la direction du vecteur du mouvement oculaire que dans la direction perpendiculaire au mouvement et il y avait une tendance plus grande a sous - estimer pluto@t qu'a surestimer le centre de l'objet. L'endroit de fixation influencait les autres aspects du comportement oculaire. La duree de la premiere fixation sur un objet decroissait et la probabilite de fixer a nouveau un objet augmentait au fur et a mesure qu'augmentait la deviation du point de fixation initial. Les effets d'un facteur cognitif, la contrainte semantique, ont aussi ete examines. L'endroit de fixation et la contrainte semantique montraient une interaction de facon telle que la contrainte semantique avait un plus grand effet lorsque les yeux atterrissaient plus loin du centre de l'objet. Les resultats sont discutes sous l'angle de leur implication lors de l'utilisation du mouvement oculaire comme indicateur du traitement perceptuel et cognitif.

The use of eye movement behaviour as a dependent measure has recently provided a great deal of useful information about basic processes in complex visual tasks such as reading (e.g., Just & Carpenter, 1987; Rayner, 1978; Rayner &ol Platsek, 1989) and picture processing (e.g., Antes, 1974; Loftus, 1972; Mackworth & Morandi, 1967; Rayner, 1978; Yarbus, 1967). However, it has also become clear that if eye movement behaviour is to realize its full potential as an on - line measure of perceptual and cognitive processes, a more thorough understanding of eye movement control and of the factors that influence the eye movement pattern will be necessary (Rayner & Pollatsek, 1989). While much of the recent work on eye movement control has been concerned with eye movements during reading (Henderson & Ferreira, 1990; McConkie, 1979; McConkie & Zola, 1984; Morrison, 1984; Pollatsek & Rayner, 1982; Pollatsek, Rayner, & Balota, 1986), a complete model of eye movement control will have to generalize across visual - cognitive domains (Henderson, 1992b). The present study was designed to examine basic eye movement behaviour in a complex visual task other than reading. The goals were, first, to add to the data - base concerning eye movement behaviour, and second, to determine whether results obtained in reading would generalize to another task. To these ends, eye movement behaviour was examined while observers viewed arrays of line drawings of objects.

An example of eye movement behaviour observed in a complex task is the tendency for the initial landing position (or preferred fixation location, Rayner, 1979) following a saccade to be at or slightly to the left of the center of a target word when the word is to be identified (Dunn - Rankin, 1978; Hyona, Niemi, & Underwood, 1989; McConkie, Kerr, Reddix, & Zola, 1988; O'Regan, 1981; Rayner, 1979). …

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