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Iperception. 2011;2(6):592-610. doi: 10.1068/i0414. Epub 2011 Oct 14.

New insights into ambient and focal visual fixations using an automatic classification algorithm.

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  • 1Technicolor, 1 avenue Belle Fontaine, 35510 Cesson-Sévigné, France; e-mail: Brice.Follet@technicolor.com.


Overt visual attention is the act of directing the eyes toward a given area. These eye movements are characterised by saccades and fixations. A debate currently surrounds the role of visual fixations. Do they all have the same role in the free viewing of natural scenes? Recent studies suggest that at least two types of visual fixations exist: focal and ambient. The former is believed to be used to inspect local areas accurately, whereas the latter is used to obtain the context of the scene. We investigated the use of an automated system to cluster visual fixations in two groups using four types of natural scene images. We found new evidence to support a focal-ambient dichotomy. Our data indicate that the determining factor is the saccade amplitude. The dependence on the low-level visual features and the time course of these two kinds of visual fixations were examined. Our results demonstrate that there is an interplay between both fixation populations and that focal fixations are more dependent on low-level visual features than are ambient fixations.


focal and ambient visual fixations; saliency; visual attention; visual fixations

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