Extra-foveal Processing of Object Semantics Guides Early Overt Attention During Visual Search

Article


Cimminella, F., Coco, M. and Della Sala, S. 2019. Extra-foveal Processing of Object Semantics Guides Early Overt Attention During Visual Search. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. 82, p. 655–670.
AuthorsCimminella, F., Coco, M. and Della Sala, S.
Abstract

Eye-tracking studies using arrays of objects have demonstrated that some high-level processing of object semantics can occur in extra-foveal vision, but its role on the allocation of early overt attention is still unclear. This eye-tracking visual search study contributes novel findings by examining the role of object-to-object semantic relatedness and visual saliency on search responses and eye-movement behaviour across arrays of increasing size (3, 5, 7). Our data show that a critical object was looked at earlier and for longer when it was semantically unrelated than related to the other objects in the display, both when it was the search target (target-present trials) and when it was a target’s semantically related competitor (target-absent trials). Semantic relatedness effects manifested already during the very first fixation after array onset, were consistently found for increasing set sizes, and were independent of low-level visual saliency, which did not play any role. We conclude that object semantics can be extracted early in extra-foveal vision and capture overt attention from the very first fixation. These findings pose a challenge to models of visual attention which assume that overt attention is guided by the visual appearance of stimuli, rather than by their semantics.

JournalAttention, Perception, & Psychophysics
Journal citation82, p. 655–670
ISSN1943-3921
Year2019
PublisherSpringer
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Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.3758/s13414-019-01906-1
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-019-01906-1
Publication dates
Print02 Dec 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Dec 2019
Copyright holder© 2019 The Authors
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