Visual perception is virtually effortless, operating at a level below conscious experience. Because it most frequently operates without attentive intervention, it does not yield to introspective report. The foveal/peripheral distribution of photoreceptor density in the human eye requires a mechanism to rapidly re-target areas in the environment for visual inspection. The eyes are moved both toward areas where high-acuity, central vision is required and toward objects of interest to the current task. Monitoring those eye movements can provide a window into perception. Subjects’ eye movements were monitored while they performed the familiar, complex task of hand-washing. Analysis revealed a novel perceptual strategy, in which objects of future interaction were foveated seconds before the information was “needed” for a task. These lookahead fixations are task-dependent; while they occurred in over 3% of fixations in the hand-washing task, their frequency fell to less than 1% in a control experiment. We propose that the look-ahead fixations represent a strategic deployment of attentional and visual resources to optimize information gathering during natural tasks.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



Image Processing, 2001 2 (2001) 12-15 Proceedings of the 2001 International Conference on Image Processing. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Held in Thessaloniki, Greece: 7-10 October 2001. ©2001 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from the IEEE. This material is presented to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by authors or by other copyright holders. All persons copying this information are expected to adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. In most cases, these works may not be reposted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. ISBN: 0-7803-6725-1Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus