Performance finding a target improves when artificial cues direct covert attention to the target's probable location or locations, but how do predictive cues help observers search for objects in real scenes? Controlling for target detectability and retinal eccentricity, we recorded observers' first saccades during search for objects that appeared in expected and unexpected locations within real scenes. As has been found with synthetic images and cues, accuracy of first saccades was significantly higher when the target appeared at an expected location rather than an unexpected location. Observers' saccades with target-absent images make it possible to distinguish two mechanisms that might mediate this effect: limited attentional resources versus differential weighting of information (Bayesian priors). Endpoints of first saccades in target-absent images were significantly closer to the expected than the unexpected locations, a result consistent with the differential-weighting model and inconsistent with limited resources being the sole mechanism underlying the effect
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