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Fixation-dependent memory for natural scenes: An experimental test of scanpath theory.

Foulsham, Tom and Kingstone, Alan (2013) 'Fixation-dependent memory for natural scenes: An experimental test of scanpath theory.' Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142 (1). pp. 41-56. ISSN 0096-3445

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Many modern theories propose that perceptual information is represented by the sensorimotor activity elicited by the original stimulus. Scanpath theory (Noton & Stark, 1971) predicts that reinstating a sequence of eye fixations will help an observer recognize a previously seen image. However, the only studies to investigate this are correlational ones based on calculating scanpath similarity. We therefore describe a series of 5 experiments that constrain the fixations during encoding or recognition of images in order to manipulate scanpath similarity. Participants encoded a set of images and later had to recognize those that they had seen. They spontaneously selected regions that they had fixated during encoding (Experiment 1), and this was a predictor of recognition accuracy. Yoking the parts of the image available at recognition to the encoded scanpath led to better memory performance than randomly selected image regions (Experiment 2), and this could not be explained by the spatial distribution of locations (Experiment 3). However, there was no recognition advantage for re-viewing one's own fixations versus someone else's (Experiment 4) or for retaining their serial order (Experiment 5). Therefore, although it is beneficial to look at encoded regions, there is no evidence that scanpaths are stored or that scanpath recapitulation is functional in scene memory. This paradigm provides a controlled way of studying the integration of scene content, spatial structure, and oculomotor signals, with consequences for the perception, representation, and retrieval of visual information.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: attention; eye movements; scene perception; memory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2013 12:56
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2022 14:27

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