During category learning, top-down and bottom up processes battle for control of the eyes

Abstract

Information in the visual environment is largely accessed through a series of fixations punctuated by saccades. Changes in fixation patterns in response to learning are well documented in studies of categorization, but the properties of the saccades that precede them and the role of visual salience in effecting eye movements remains poorly understood. This eye tracking study examines oculomotor changes in a categorization task with salient distractors. The design examines high-level, goal-directed attention that serves the purpose of learning, and making decisions based on that learned knowledge in the presence of salient distractors. We find that salient distractors draw fixation durations and saccade velocities that display similar properties to eye movements directed to task relevant items, challenging existing accounts that salience draws rapid saccades.


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