Modulation of microsaccades by spatial frequency during object categorization

Matt Craddock, Frank Oppermann, Matthias M Müller, Jasna Martinovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The organization of visual processing into a coarse-to-fine information processing based on the spatial frequency properties of the input forms an important facet of the object recognition process. During visual object categorization tasks, microsaccades occur frequently. One potential functional role of these eye movements is to resolve high spatial frequency information. To assess this hypothesis, we examined the rate, amplitude and speed of microsaccades in an object categorization task in which participants viewed object and non-object images and classified them as showing either natural objects, man-made objects or non-objects. Images were presented unfiltered (broadband; BB) or filtered to contain only low (LSF) or high spatial frequency (HSF) information. This allowed us to examine whether microsaccades were modulated independently by the presence of a high-level feature - the presence of an object - and by low-level stimulus characteristics - spatial frequency. We found a bimodal distribution of saccades based on their amplitude, with a split between smaller and larger microsaccades at 0.4° of visual angle. The rate of larger saccades (⩾0.4°) was higher for objects than non-objects, and higher for objects with high spatial frequency content (HSF and BB objects) than for LSF objects. No effects were observed for smaller microsaccades (<0.4°). This is consistent with a role for larger microsaccades in resolving HSF information for object identification, and previous evidence that more microsaccades are directed towards informative image regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-56
JournalVision Research
Early online date1 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • microsaccades
  • eye movements
  • object categorisation
  • object identification
  • spatial frequency


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