Semantic Override of Low-level Features in Image Viewing – Both Initially and Overall

  • Marcus Nyström Lund University
  • Kenneth Holmqvist Lund University
Keywords: image viewing, contrast manipulation, semantic information dispersion, bottom-up, top-down


Guidance of eye-movements in image viewing is believed to be controlled by stimulus driven factors as well as viewer dependent higher level factors such as task and memory. It is currently debated what proportions these factors contribute to gaze guidance, and also how they vary over time after image onset. Overall, the unanimity regarding these issues is surprisingly low and there are results supporting both types of factors as being dominant in eye-movement control under certain conditions. We investigate how low, and high level factors influence eye guidance by manipulating contrast statistics on images from three different semantic categories and measure how this affects fixation selection. Our results show that the degree to which contrast manipulations affect fixation selection heavily depends on an image’s semantic content, and how this content is distributed over the image. Over the three image categories, we found no systematic differences between contrast and edge density at fixated location compared to control locations, neither during the initial fixation nor over the whole time course of viewing. These results suggest that cognitive factors easily can override low-level factors in fixation selection, even when the viewing task is neutral.
How to Cite
Nyström, M., & Holmqvist, K. (2008). Semantic Override of Low-level Features in Image Viewing – Both Initially and Overall. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 2(2).