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Proceedings Paper

Visual search and eye movements in novel and familiar contexts
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Paper Abstract

Adapting to the visual characteristics of a specific environment may facilitate detecting novel stimuli within that environment. We monitored eye movements while subjects searched for a color target on familiar or unfamiliar color backgrounds, in order to test for these performance changes and to explore whether they reflect changes in salience from adaptation vs. changes in search strategies or perceptual learning. The target was an ellipse of variable color presented at a random location on a dense background of ellipses. In one condition, the colors of the background varied along either the LvsM or SvsLM cardinal axes. Observers adapted by viewing a rapid succession of backgrounds drawn from one color axis, and then searched for a target on a background from the same or different color axis. Searches were monitored with a Cambridge Research Systems Video Eyetracker. Targets were located more quickly on the background axis that observers were pre-exposed to, confirming that this exposure can improve search efficiency for stimuli that differ from the background. However, eye movement patterns (e.g. fixation durations and saccade magnitudes) did not clearly differ across the two backgrounds, suggesting that how the novel and familiar backgrounds were sampled remained similar. In a second condition, we compared search on a nonselective color background drawn from a circle of hues at fixed contrast. Prior exposure to this background did not facilitate search compared to an achromatic adapting field, suggesting that subjects were not simply learning the specific colors defining the background distributions. Instead, results for both conditions are consistent with a selective adaptation effect that enhances the salience of novel stimuli by partially discounting the background.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 February 2006
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6057, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging XI, 60570C (9 February 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.661004
Show Author Affiliations
Kyle McDermott, Univ. of Nevada, Reno (United States)
Jeffrey B. Mulligan, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
George Bebis, Univ. of Nevada, Reno (United States)
Michael A. Webster, Univ. of Nevada, Reno (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6057:
Human Vision and Electronic Imaging XI
Bernice E. Rogowitz; Thrasyvoulos N. Pappas; Scott J. Daly, Editor(s)

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