Semantic guidance of eye movements in real-world scenes

Alex D. Hwang*, Hsueh-Cheng Wang, Marc Pomplun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

The perception of objects in our visual world is influenced by not only their low-level visual features such as shape and color, but also their high-level features such as meaning and semantic relations among them. While it has been shown that low-level features in real-world scenes guide eye movements during scene inspection and search, the influence of semantic similarity among scene objects on eye movements in such situations has not been investigated. Here we study guidance of eye movements by semantic similarity among objects during real-world scene inspection and search. By selecting scenes from the LabelMe object-annotated image database and applying latent semantic analysis (LSA) to the object labels, we generated semantic saliency maps of real-world scenes based on the semantic similarity of scene objects to the currently fixated object or the search target. An ROC analysis of these maps as predictors of subjects' gaze transitions between objects during scene inspection revealed a preference for transitions to objects that were semantically similar to the currently inspected one. Furthermore, during the course of a scene search, subjects' eye movements were progressively guided toward objects that were semantically similar to the search target. These findings demonstrate substantial semantic guidance of eye movements in real-world scenes and show its importance for understanding real-world attentional control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1192-1205
Number of pages14
JournalVision Research
Volume51
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 May 2011

Keywords

  • Eye movements
  • Latent semantic analysis
  • Scene inspection
  • Visual attention
  • Visual search

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