The role of meaning in attentional guidance during free viewing of real-world scenes

Abstract

In real-world vision, humans prioritize the most relevant visual information at the expense of other information via attentional selection. The current study sought to understand the role of semantic features and image features on attentional selection during free viewing of real-world scenes. We compared the ability of meaning maps generated from ratings of isolated, context-free image patches and saliency maps generated from the Graph-Based Visual Saliency model to predict the spatial distribution of attention in scenes as measured by eye movements. Additionally, we introduce new contextualized meaning maps in which scene patches were rated based upon how informative or recognizable they were in the context of the scene from which they derived. We found that both context-free and contextualized meaning explained significantly more of the overall variance in the spatial distribution of attention than image salience. Furthermore, meaning explained early attention to a significantly greater extent than image salience, contrary to predictions of the ‘saliency first’ hypothesis. Finally, both context-free and contextualized meaning predicted attention equivalently. These results support theories in which meaning plays a dominant role in attentional guidance during free viewing of real-world scenes.

Publication
Acta Psychologica

© 2019 Taylor R. Hayes