The relationship between the locations of spatial features and those of fixations made during visual examination of briefly presented images

Spat Vis. 1996;10(3):165-88. doi: 10.1163/156856896x00123.


The locations of features such as extremes of contrast or luminance, high spatial frequency content and edge density in a set of images have been determined, and the locations of fixations made by a group of eighteen human observers who examined the images during brief (3 s) presentations were also measured. The similarity between the locations of the eye movements and those of each stimulus feature was determined by means of a least squares index IS. For averages taken over data for all observers, the similarity determined in this way is much lower than values for pairs of fixation locations made by different observers. It is concluded that the pattern of fixations made to a given image which is highly conserved between different observers, cannot be associated with any one of the local features examined by us. It is shown further that the distribution of fixation locations over the images is non-uniform, with a marked bias to central areas, whereas the image features are more uniformly distributed. Weighting the distributions of feature locations to take account of the non-uniform distribution of fixations produces much higher IS values, but the dominant contribution to these high values is the weighting function itself. Only in the case of edge density is there significant similarity between the locations of eye movements and those of the image features.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Observer Variation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*