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J Vis. 2014 Jan 6;14(1). pii: 2. doi: 10.1167/14.1.2.

Real and implied motion at the center of gaze.

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  • 1University of Osnabrück, Institute of Cognitive Science, Osnabrück, Germany.


Even though the dynamicity of our environment is a given, much of what we know on fixation selection comes from studies of static scene viewing. We performed a direct comparison of fixation selection on static and dynamic visual stimuli and investigated how far identical mechanisms drive these. We recorded eye movements while participants viewed movie clips of natural scenery and static frames taken from the same movies. Both were presented in the same high spatial resolution (1080 × 1920 pixels). The static condition allowed us to check whether local movement features computed from movies are salient even when presented as single frames. We observed that during the first second of viewing, movement and static features are equally salient in both conditions. Furthermore, predictability of fixations based on movement features decreased faster when viewing static frames as compared with viewing movie clips. Yet even during the later portion of static-frame viewing, the predictive value of movement features was still high above chance. Moreover, we demonstrated that, whereas the sets of movement and static features were statistically dependent within these sets, respectively, no dependence was observed between the two sets. Based on these results, we argue that implied motion is predictive of fixation similarly to real movement and that the onset of motion in natural stimuli is more salient than ongoing movement is. The present results allow us to address to what extent and when static image viewing is similar to the perception of a dynamic environment.


eye movements; motion perception; natural scene statistics; visual attention

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