Eye movements as a window to cognitive processes

Peter König, Niklas Wilming, Tim C. Kietzmann, Jose P. Ossandón, Selim Onat, Benedikt V. Ehinger, Ricardo R. Gameiro, Kai Kaspar


Eye movement research is a highly active and productive research field. Here we focus on how the embodied nature of eye movements can act as a window to the brain and the mind. In particular, we discuss how conscious perception depends on the trajectory of fixated locations and consequently address how fixation locations are selected. Specifically, we argue that the selection of fixation points during visual exploration can be understood to a large degree based on retinotopically structured models. Yet, these models largely ignore spatiotemporal structure in eye-movement sequences. Explaining spatiotemporal structure in eye-movement trajectories requires an understanding of spatiotemporal properties of the visual sampling process. With this in mind, we discuss the availability of external information to internal inference about causes in the world. We demonstrate that visual foraging is a dynamic process that can be systematically modulated either towards exploration or exploitation. For an analysis at high temporal resolution, we suggest a new method: The renewal density allows the investigation of precise temporal relation of eye movements and other actions like a button press. We conclude with an outlook and propose that eye movement research has reached an appropriate stage and can easily be combined with other research methods to utilize this window to the brain and mind to its fullest.


eye movement; eye tracking; saccades; attention; fixation duration; salience; models

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.16910/jemr.9.5.3


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