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Investigating attention in complex visual search

Kovach, Christopher K. and Adolphs, Ralph (2015) Investigating attention in complex visual search. Vision Research, 116B . pp. 127-141. ISSN 0042-6989. PMCID PMC4459953.

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How we attend to and search for objects in the real world is influenced by a host of low-level and higher-level factors whose interactions are poorly understood. The vast majority of studies approach this issue by experimentally controlling one or two factors in isolation, often under conditions with limited ecological validity. We present a comprehensive regression framework, together with a matlab-implemented toolbox, which allows concurrent factors influencing saccade targeting to be more clearly distinguished. Based on the idea of gaze selection as a point process, the framework allows each putative factor to be modeled as a covariate in a generalized linear model, and its significance to be evaluated with model-based hypothesis testing. We apply this framework to visual search for faces as an example and demonstrate its power in detecting effects of eccentricity, inversion, task congruency, emotional expression, and serial fixation order on the targeting of gaze. Among other things, we find evidence for multiple goal-related and goal-independent processes that operate with distinct visuotopy and time course.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Kovach, Christopher K.0000-0002-0117-151X
Adolphs, Ralph0000-0002-8053-9692
Additional Information:© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Received 8 July 2014, Revised 23 October 2014, Available online 8 December 2014. We thank Rick L. Jenison and Andrew Hollingworth for advice and assistance. Funded in part by NIMH Grant P50MH094258.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Eye tracking; Attention; Face perception; Visual search; Generalized linear model
PubMed Central ID:PMC4459953
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20141222-135458559
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Christopher K. Kovach, Ralph Adolphs, Investigating attention in complex visual search, Vision Research, Volume 116, Part B, November 2015, Pages 127-141, ISSN 0042-6989, ( (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:53107
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:22 Dec 2014 22:39
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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