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Keynote

Modeling the Control of Human Visual Attention in Real-World Scenes

Marc Pomplun

University of Massachusetts, Boston

Abstract: In order to present the most relevant information to a user at any given time, human-computer interfaces need the ability to infer the user's current intent. Ideally, such inference should be automatic and not increase the user's cognitive load. A possible approach to this problem is the on-line analysis of the user's eye movements, which are controlled by both stimulus-driven (bottom-up) processes as well as goal-driven (top-down) processes. Here I will present two psychophysical studies that examine the control of eye movements in real-world scenes and may contribute to the design of next-generation interfaces. The first study employs a search task to study the guidance of eye movements by low-level visual features (e.g., color or orientation) of the search target, resulting in a model of top-down control of visual attention. A novel informativeness measure makes this model a strong predictor of human eye movements. The second study investigates the influence of higher-level, semantic factors on visual scan paths during inspection and search of real-world scenes. During inspection, the observers' gaze is found to be biased toward transitions between semantically similar objects, which may be beneficial to memorizing scene content. Once a search task is involved, this control mechanism is entirely replaced by guidance toward objects that are semantically similar to the search target.

Bio: Dr. Pomplun is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. After receiving his Ph.D. in computer science from Bielefeld University in Germany, he received a post-doctoral fellowship to conduct research on human visual attention at the University of Toronto, Department of Psychology. Subsequently, he worked on neural modeling projects as a research scientist in the Center for Vision Research at York University, Canada, before accepting his present position in Boston. Dr. Pomplun's current research interests are human eye movements, visual attention, modeling of cognitive processes, and human-computer interaction.

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