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J Vis. 2012 Oct 31;12(11). pii: 30. doi: 10.1167/12.11.30.

Spotting expertise in the eyes: billiards knowledge as revealed by gaze shifts in a dynamic visual prediction task.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Action, Perception, Cognition- Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy. crespi.sofiaallegra@gmail.com

Abstract

In sports, as in other activities and knowledge domains, expertise is a highly valuable asset. We assessed whether expertise in billiards is associated with specific patterns of eye movements in a visual prediction task. Professional players and novices were presented a number of simplified billiard shots on a computer screen, previously filmed in a real set, with the last part of the ball trajectory occluded. They had to predict whether or not the ball would have hit the central skittle. Experts performed better than novices, in terms of both accuracy and response time. By analyzing eye movements, we found that during occlusion, experts rarely extrapolated with the gaze the occluded part of the ball trajectory-a behavior that was widely diffused in novices-even when the unseen path was long and with two bounces interposed. Rather, they looked selectively at specific diagnostic points on the cushions along the ball's visible trajectory, in accordance with a formal metrical system used by professional players to calculate the shot coordinates. Thus, the eye movements of expert observers contained a clear signature of billiard expertise and documented empirically a strategy upgrade in visual problem solving from dynamic, analog simulation in imagery to more efficient rule-based, conceptual knowledge.

PMID:
23115218
DOI:
10.1167/12.11.30
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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