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J Vis. 2017 Oct 1;17(12):2. doi: 10.1167/17.12.2.

Even if I showed you where you looked, remembering where you just looked is hard.

Author information

School of Health Professions Education, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Scene Grammar Lab, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany.


People know surprisingly little about their own visual behavior, which can be problematic when learning or executing complex visual tasks such as search of medical images. We investigated whether providing observers with online information about their eye position during search would help them recall their own fixations immediately afterwards. Seventeen observers searched for various objects in "Where's Waldo" images for 3 s. On two-thirds of trials, observers made target present/absent responses. On the other third (critical trials), they were asked to click twelve locations in the scene where they thought they had just fixated. On half of the trials, a gaze-contingent window showed observers their current eye position as a 7.5° diameter "spotlight." The spotlight "illuminated" everything fixated, while the rest of the display was still visible but dimmer. Performance was quantified as the overlap of circles centered on the actual fixations and centered on the reported fixations. Replicating prior work, this overlap was quite low (26%), far from ceiling (66%) and quite close to chance performance (21%). Performance was only slightly better in the spotlight condition (28%, p = 0.03). Giving observers information about their fixation locations by dimming the periphery improved memory for those fixations modestly, at best.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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