Visual perception, operating below conscious awareness, effortlessly provides the experience of a rich representation of the environment, continuous in space and time. Conscious visual perception is made possible by the 'foveal compromise,' the combination of the high-acuity fovea and a sophisticated suite of eye movements. Our illusory visual experience cannot be understood by introspection, but monitoring eye movements lets us probe the processes of visual perception. Four tasks representing a wide range of complexity were used to explore visual perception; image quality judgments, map reading, model building, and hand-washing. Very short fixation durations were observed in all tasks, some as short as 33 msec. While some tasks showed little variation in eye movement metrics, differences in eye movement patterns and high-level strategies were observed in the model building and hand-washing tasks. Performance in the hand-washing task revealed a new type of eye movement. 'Planful' eye movements were made to objects well in advance of a subject's interaction with the object. Often occurring in the middle of another task, they provide 'overlapping' temporal information about the environment providing a mechanism to produce our conscious visual experience.
Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit
Department, Program, or Center
Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)
Pelz, Jeff; Canosa, Roxanne; Kucharczyk, Diane; and Babcock, Jason, "Portable eyetracking: a study of natural eye movements" (2000). Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus