Object Learning Improves Feature Extraction but Does Not Improve Feature Selection

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A single glance at your crowded desk is enough to locate your favorite cup. But finding an unfamiliar object requires more effort. This superiority in recognition performance for learned objects has at least two possible sources. For familiar objects observers might: 1) select more informative image locations upon which to fixate their eyes, or 2) extract more information from a given eye fixation. To test these possibilities, we had observers localize fragmented objects embedded in dense displays of random contour fragments. Eight participants searched for objects in 600 images while their eye movements were recorded in three daily sessions. Performance improved as subjects trained with the objects: The number of fixations required to find an object decreased by 64% across the 3 sessions. An ideal observer model that included measures of fragment confusability was used to calculate the information available from a single fixation. Comparing human performance to the model suggested that across sessions information extraction at each eye fixation increased markedly, by an amount roughly equal to the extra information that would be extracted following a 100% increase in functional field of view. Selection of fixation locations, on the other hand, did not improve with practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere51325
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 12 2012


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