A Novel Method for Disentangling Strategies from Visual Search

Vicente Pallarés, Lorena Rami, Laura Dempere-Marco


The process of actively scanning a visual scene while looking for something in a cluttered environment is known as visual search. In this work, we show that it is possible to disentangle the strategies pursued by subjects to solve visual tasks by investigating dynamical aspects inherent to eye-tracking data. A novel method is proposed to characterize visual search strategies in a generalized N-dimensional feature domain, which allows us to investigate spatial-temporal aspects of the search as well as the subjects’ reliance on visual cues. In order to validate the proposed method, we have developed an experimental paradigm based on a double conjunction search in which one the visual cues is systematically manipulated, which can induce featurebased strategies in the observers. On the basis of the preliminary evidence presented here, we argue that this characterization of visual search strategies opens new avenues to assess cognitive function and its relation to normal aging.


  1. Beauchamp, M., Petit, L., Ellmore, T., Ingeholm, J., and Haxby, J. (2001). A parametric fmri study of overt and covert shifts of visuospatial attention. NeuroImage, 14(2):310-321.
  2. Boccignone, G. and Ferraro, M. (2004). Modelling gaze shift as a constrained random walk. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 331(1-2):207- 218.
  3. Carrasco, M. (2011). Visual attention: The past 25 years. Vision Research, 51(13):1484-1525.
  4. Corbetta, M., Akbudak, E., Conturo, T., Snyder, A., Ollinger, J., Drury, H., Linenweber, M., Petersen, S., Raichle, M., Van Essen, D., and Shulman, G. (1998). A common network of functional areas for attention and eye movements. Neuron, 21(4):761-773.
  5. Deco, G. and Rolls, E. (2004). A neurodynamical cortical model of visual attention and invariant object recognition. Vision Research, 44(6):621-642.
  6. Deco, G. and Zihl, J. (2006). The neurodynamics of visual search. Visual Cognition, 14(4-8):1006-1024.
  7. Dempere-Marco, L., Hu, X., and Yang, G.-Z. (2011). A novel framework for the analysis of eye movements during visual search for knowledge gathering. Cognitive Computation, 3(1):206-222.
  8. Deubel, H. and Schneider, W. (1996). Saccade target selection and object recognition: Evidence for a common attentional mechanism. Vision Research, 36(12):1827-1837.
  9. Engbert, R. and Kliegl, R. (2003). Microsaccades uncover the orientation of covert attention. Vision Research, 43(9):1035-1045.
  10. Grosbras, M.-H., Laird, A., and Paus, T. (2005). Cortical regions involved in eye movements, shifts of attention, and gaze perception. Human Brain Mapping, 25(1):140-154.
  11. Hoffman, J. and Subramaniam, B. (1995). The role of visual attention in saccadic eye movements. Perception & Psychophysics, 57(6):787-795.
  12. Holmqvist, K., Nyström, M., Andersson, R., Dewhurst, R., Jarodzka, H., and van de Weijer, J. (2011). Eye Tracking: A comprehensive guide to methods and measures. OUP Oxford.
  13. Hu, X.-P., Dempere-Marco, L., and Yang, G.-Z. (2003). Hot spot detection based on feature space representation of visual search. IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, 22(9):1152-1162.
  14. Laubrock, J., Kliegl, R., Rolfs, M., and Engbert, R. (2010). When do microsaccades follow spatial attention? Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 72(3):683- 694.
  15. Rayner, K. (2009). Eye movements and attention in reading, scene perception, and visual search. Q J Exp Psychol (Hove), 62:1457-506.
  16. Salthouse, T. (1996). The processing-speed theory of adult age differences in cognition. Psychological Review, 103(3):403-428.
  17. Treisman, A. and Gelade, G. (1980). A feature-integration theory of attention. Cognitive Psychology, 12(1):97- 136.
  18. Vo˜, M.-H. and Henderson, J. (2010). The time course of initial scene processing for eye movement guidance in natural scene search. Journal of Vision, 10(3):1-13.
  19. Wolfe, J. (1998). Visual search. In Pashler, H., editor, Attention, Studies in cognition. University College London Press, London, UK.
  20. Yang, G.-Z., Dempere-Marco, L., Hu, X.-P., and Rowe, A. (2002). Visual search: Psychophysical models and practical applications. Image and Vision Computing, 20(4):291-305.
  21. Yuval-Greenberg, S., Merriam, E., and Heeger, D. (2014). Spontaneous microsaccades reflect shifts in covert attention. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(41):13693- 13700.

Paper Citation

in Harvard Style

Pallarés V., Rami L. and Dempere-Marco L. (2016). A Novel Method for Disentangling Strategies from Visual Search . In Proceedings of the 9th International Joint Conference on Biomedical Engineering Systems and Technologies - Volume 4: BIOSIGNALS, (BIOSTEC 2016) ISBN 978-989-758-170-0, pages 271-276. DOI: 10.5220/0005821602710276

in Bibtex Style

author={Vicente Pallarés and Lorena Rami and Laura Dempere-Marco},
title={A Novel Method for Disentangling Strategies from Visual Search},
booktitle={Proceedings of the 9th International Joint Conference on Biomedical Engineering Systems and Technologies - Volume 4: BIOSIGNALS, (BIOSTEC 2016)},

in EndNote Style

JO - Proceedings of the 9th International Joint Conference on Biomedical Engineering Systems and Technologies - Volume 4: BIOSIGNALS, (BIOSTEC 2016)
TI - A Novel Method for Disentangling Strategies from Visual Search
SN - 978-989-758-170-0
AU - Pallarés V.
AU - Rami L.
AU - Dempere-Marco L.
PY - 2016
SP - 271
EP - 276
DO - 10.5220/0005821602710276