Task relevance predicts gaze in videos of real moving scenes

Christina J Howard, Iain D Gilchrist, Tom Troscianko, Ardhendu Behera, David C Hogg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Low-level stimulus salience and task relevance together determine the human Wxation priority assigned to scene locations (Fecteau and Munoz in Trends Cogn Sci 10(8):382–390, 2006). However, surprisingly little is known about the contribution of task relevance to eye movements during real-world visual search where stimuli are in constant motion and where the ‘target’ for the visual search is abstract and semantic in nature. Here, we investigate this issue when participants continuously search an array of four closed-circuit television (CCTV) screens for suspicious events. We recorded eye movements whilst participants watched real CCTV footage and moved a joystick to continuously indicate perceived suspiciousness. We find that when multiple areas of a display compete for attention, gaze is allocated according to relative levels of reported suspiciousness. Furthermore, this measure of task relevance accounted for twice the amount of variance in gaze likelihood as the amount of low-level visual changes over time in the video stimuli.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-137
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2011


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