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Knowledge-driven perceptual organization reshapes information sampling via eye movements

Pedziwiatr, Marek, Von dem Hagen, Elisabeth and Teufel, Christoph 2021. Knowledge-driven perceptual organization reshapes information sampling via eye movements. [Online]. bioRxiv. Available at:

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Humans constantly move their eyes to explore the environment and obtain information. Competing theories of gaze guidance consider the factors driving eye movements within a dichotomy between low-level visual features and high-level object representations. However, recent developments in object perception indicate a complex and intricate relationship between features and objects. Specifically, image-independent object-knowledge can generate objecthood by dynamically reconfiguring how feature space is carved up by the visual system. Here, we adopt this emerging perspective of object perception, moving away from the simplifying dichotomy between features and objects in explanations of gaze guidance. We recorded eye movements in response to stimuli that appear as meaningless patches on initial viewing but are experienced as coherent objects once relevant object-knowledge has been acquired. We demonstrate that gaze guidance differs substantially depending on whether observers experienced the same stimuli as meaningless patches or organized them into object representations. In particular, fixations on identical images became object-centred, less dispersed, and more consistent across observers once exposed to relevant prior object-knowledge. Observers’ gaze behaviour also indicated a shift from exploratory information-sampling to a strategy of extracting information mainly from selected, object-related image areas. These effects were evident from the first fixations on the image. Importantly, however, eye-movements were not fully determined by object representations but were best explained by a simple model that integrates image-computable features and high-level, knowledge-dependent object representations. Overall, the results show how information sampling via eye-movements in humans is guided by a dynamic interaction between image-computable features and knowledge-driven perceptual organization.

Item Type: Website Content
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Submitted
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Additional Information: The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY 4.0 International license.
Publisher: bioRxiv
Date of Acceptance: 24 September 2021
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2022 12:46

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