Motion velocity as a preattentive feature in cartographic symbolization

J Eye Mov Res. 2023 Sep 14;16(4):10.16910/jemr.16.4.1. doi: 10.16910/jemr.16.4.1. eCollection 2023.


The presented study aims to examine the process of preattentive processing of dynamic point symbols used in cartographic symbology. More specifically, we explore different motion types of geometric symbols on a map together with various motion velocity distribution scales. The main hypothesis is that, in specific cases, motion velocity of dynamic point symbols is the feature that could be perceived preattentively on a map. In a controlled laboratory experiment, with 103 participants and eye tracking methods, we used administrative border maps with animated symbols. Participants' task was to find and precisely identify the fastest changing symbol. It turned out that not every type of motion could be perceived preattentively even though the motion distribution scale did not change. The same applied to symbols' shape. Eye movement analysis revealed that successful detection was closely related to the fixation on the target after initial preattentive vision. This confirms a significant role of the motion velocity distribution and the usage of symbols' shape in cartographic design of animated maps.

Keywords: Preattentive processing; animated mapping; attention; dynamic cartographic symbols; eye movement; eye tracking; gaze; map perception.