Eye movements in iconic visual search

Vision Res. 2002 May;42(11):1447-63. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(02)00040-8.


Visual cognition depends critically on the moment-to-moment orientation of gaze. To change the gaze to a new location in space, that location must be computed and used by the oculomotor system. One of the most common sources of information for this computation is the visual appearance of an object. A crucial question is: How is the appearance information contained in the photometric array is converted into a target position? This paper proposes a such a model that accomplishes this calculation. The model uses iconic scene representations derived from oriented spatiochromatic filters at multiple scales. Visual search for a target object proceeds in a coarse-to-fine fashion with the target's largest scale filter responses being compared first. Task-relevant target locations are represented as saliency maps which are used to program eye movements. A central feature of the model is that it separates the targeting process, which changes gaze, from the decision process, which extracts information at or near the new gaze point to guide behavior. The model provides a detailed explanation for center-of-gravity saccades that have been observed in many previous experiments. In addition, the model's targeting performance has been compared with the eye movements of human subjects under identical conditions in natural visual search tasks. The results show good agreement both quantitatively (the search paths are strikingly similar) and qualitatively (the fixations of false targets are comparable).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*