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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Undergraduate Course: Eye Movements and Visual Cognition (PSYL10096)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe aim of this course is to develop students' understanding of the role of eye movements in visual cognition. In lecture 1, the concept of visual attention is introduced; topics to be covered include the distinctions between exogenous versus endogenous attention, space- versus object-based attention, and covert versus overt attention. The remaining lectures build on the idea that, most of the time, attention is active and overt and that visual selection typically involves selection via eye movements. The course thus emphasizes the use of eye tracking to study visual attention and cognition. In lectures 2 to 5, the role of eye movements and attention in complex visual-cognitive tasks such as (1) reading, (2) scene perception, (3) dynamic image perception, and (4) real-world activity are discussed in depth. For each of these tasks, we will introduce and critically evaluate theoretical proposals made to explain the "Where" and "When" of eye fixations and attentional selection. Specifically, we will discuss factors influencing where and for how long we make fixations (fixation locations and durations), what we are able to process during a fixation, and how we determine where and when to fixate next within a sentence or a visual scene.
Course description Recording where and how long people look has become an important method for investigating how the mind and brain work. This course will explore what eye movements can tell us about visual attention in everyday tasks like reading and scene perception.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Psychology Methodology 1 (PSYL10034) AND Psychology Methodology 2 (PSYL10035)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesDegree major in Psychology and passes in psychology courses at least to the equivalent of junior honours level in Edinburgh.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the core theoretical concepts of visual attention, key experimental paradigms, and main sources of evidence associated with these concepts.
  2. Know the basic characteristics of eye movements.
  3. Understand the relationship between eye movements and (overt) visual attention.
  4. Have a good understanding of the field of eye-movement research, and in particular, have some depth of knowledge in the areas of reading and scene perception.
  5. Be able to critically evaluate existing theories and empirical evidence and to apply knowledge about eye movements and visual cognition in both written and oral form.
Reading List
General overview:
Rayner, K. (2009). The 35th Sir Frederick Bartlett lecture: Eye movements and attention in reading, scene perception, and visual search. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62(8), 1457-1506.
Lecture 1:
Findlay, J. M., & Gilchrist, I. D. (2003). Active vision: The psychology of looking and seeing. Oxford: University Press. (Chapter 3)
Rensink, R. A., O'Regan, J. K., & Clark, J. J. (1997). To see or not to see: The need for attention to perceive changes in scenes. Psychological Science, 8(5), 368-373.
Lecture 2:
Radach, R., & Kennedy, A. (2004). Theoretical perspectives on eye movements in reading: Past controversies, current issues and an agenda for future research. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 16, 3-26.
Reichle, E. D., Liversedge, S. P., Pollatsek, A., & Rayner, K. (2009). Encoding multiple words simultaneously in reading is implausible. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(3), 115-119.
Rayner, K., Liversedge, S. P., White, S. J., & Vergilino-Perez, D. (2003). Reading disappearing text: Cognitive control of eye movements. Psychological Science, 14, 385-389.
Rayner, K., White, S. J., Johnson, R. L., & Liversedge, S. P. (2006). Raeding wrods with jubmled lettres - There is a cost. Psychological Science, 17(3), 192-193.
Lecture 3:
Findlay, J. M., & Gilchrist, I. D. (2003). Active vision: The psychology of looking and seeing. Oxford: University Press. (Chapter 7)
brief overview and pointer to current issues:
Henderson, J. M. (2003). Human gaze control during real-world scene perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(11), 498-504.
Castelhano, M. S., Wieth, M. S., & Henderson, J. M. (2007). I see what you see: Eye movements in real-world scenes are affected by perceived direction of gaze. In L. Paletta & E. Rome (Eds.), Attention in Cognitive Systems (pp. 251-262). Berlin: Springer.
Lecture 4:
Dorr, M., Martinetz, T., Gegenfurtner, K. R., Barth, E. (2010). Variability of eye movements when viewing dynamic natural scenes. Journal of Vision, 10(10). 28
Itti, L. (2005). Quantifying the contribution of low-level saliency to human eye movements in dynamic scenes. Visual Cognition, 12(6), 1093-1123.
Foulsham, T., Cheng, J. T., Tracy, J. L., Henrich, J., & Kingstone, A. (2010). Gaze allocation in a dynamic situation: Effects of social status and speaking. Cognition, 117(3), 319-331.
Lecture 5:
Land, M. F. (2007). Fixation strategies during active behaviour: a brief history. In R. P. G. van Gompel, M. H. Fischer, W. S. Murray & R. L. Hill (Eds.), Eye movements: A window on mind and brain (pp. 75-95). Oxford: Elsevier.
Land, M., Mennie, N., & Rusted, J. (1999). The roles of vision and eye movements in the control of activities of daily living. Perception, 28(11), 1311-1328.
Deubel, H., & Schneider, W. X. (1996). Saccade target selection and object recognition: Evidence for a common attentional mechanism. Vision Research, 36, 1827-1837.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Antje Nuthmann
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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