In sight, out of mind: The role of eye movements in the rapid resumption of visual search

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  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Illinois


Three experiments investigated the role of eye movements in the rapid resumption of an interrupted search. Passive monitoring of eye position in Experiment 1 showed that rapid resumption was associated with a short distance between the eye and the target on the next-to-last look before target detection. Experiments 2 and 3 used two different methods for presenting the target to the point of eye fixation on some trials. If eye position alone is predictive, rapid resumption should increase when the target is near fixation. The results showed mat gaze-contingent targets increased overall search success, but that the proportion of rapid responses decreased dramatically. We conclude that rather than depending on a high-quality single look at a search target, rapid resumption of search depends on two glances; a first glance in which a hypothesis is formed, and a second glance in which the hypothesis is confirmed.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1204-1217
Number of pages14
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007