Is attention necessary for object identification? Evidence from eye movements during the inspection of real-world scenes

Consciousness and Cognition 17 (1):159-170 (2008)
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Abstract

Eye movements were recorded during the display of two images of a real-world scene that were inspected to determine whether they were the same or not . In the displays where the pictures were different, one object had been changed, and this object was sometimes taken from another scene and was incongruent with the gist. The experiment established that incongruous objects attract eye fixations earlier than the congruous counterparts, but that this effect is not apparent until the picture has been displayed for several seconds. By controlling the visual saliency of the objects the experiment eliminates the possibility that the incongruency effect is dependent upon the conspicuity of the changed objects. A model of scene perception is suggested whereby attention is unnecessary for the partial recognition of an object that delivers sufficient information about its visual characteristics for the viewer to know that the object is improbable in that particular scene, and in which full identification requires foveal inspection

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