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New article accepted for publication in the journal “Vision Research”

"Influence of initial fixation position in scene viewing” by Lars Rothkegel, Hans Trukenbrod, Heiko Schütt, Felix Wichmann and Ralf Engbert.


During scene perception our eyes generate complex sequences of fixations. Predictors of fixation locations are bottom-up factors like luminance contrast, top-down factors like viewing instruction, and systematic biases like the tendency to place fixations near the center of an image. However, comparatively little is known about the dynamics of scanpaths after experimental manipulation of specific fixation locations. Here we investigate the influence of initial fixation position on subsequent eye-movement behavior on an image. We presented 64 colored photographs to participants who started their scanpaths from one of two experimentally controlled positions in the right or left part of an image. Additionally, we computed the images’ saliency maps and classified them as balanced images or images with high saliency values on either the left or right side of a picture. As a result of the starting point manipulation, we found long transients of mean fixation position and a tendency to overshoot to the image side opposite to the starting position. Possible mechanisms for the generation of this overshoot were investigated using numerical simulations of statistical and dynamical models. We conclude that inhibitory tagging is a viable mechanism for dynamical planning of scanpaths.