Viewing task influences eye movement control during active scene perception

Monica S. Castelhano, Michael L. Mack, John M. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Expanding on the seminal work of G. Buswell (1935) and I. A. Yarbus (1967), we investigated how task instruction influences specific parameters of eye movement control. In the present study, 20 participants viewed color photographs of natural scenes under two instruction sets: visual search and memorization. Results showed that task influenced a number of eye movement measures including the number of fixations and gaze duration on specific objects. Additional analyses revealed that the areas fixated were qualitatively different between the two tasks. However, other measures such as average saccade amplitude and individual fixation durations remained constant across the viewing of the scene and across tasks. The present study demonstrates that viewing task biases the selection of scene regions and aggregate measures of fixation time on those regions but does not influence other measures, such as the duration of individual fixations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Cite this