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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

The timecourse of utilising high-level information in scene perception

Eye movements are guided by high- and low-level factors. Two key high-level factors are knowledge of where targets are likely to appear and knowledge of target appearance. Our research investigated how these two sources of information guide search. We collected eye movement data as participants searched scenes in which the objects appeared in expected or unexpected locations. We also varied the type of information participants were provided with before each search: either a picture of their search target or a word naming their search target. We found that both object appearance and likely target location guide search. Following a picture of the target, search is not strongly influenced by where the target is located. Following a word naming the target, we often search the scene region in which we expect to find the object even when it is not there. These findings reveal the visual system's strategy in utilising high-level information to guide search: where we expect to find an object has a key influence, but this influence is greatly diminished if we have detailed knowledge about the precise appearance of the target object.