Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 566–573 | Cite as

Eye movements during scene viewing: Evidence for mixed control of fixation durations

  • John M. Henderson
  • Graham L. Pierce
Brief Reports


Recent behavioral and computational research on eye movement control during scene viewing has focused on where the eyes move. However, fixations also differ in their durations, and when the eyes move may be another important indicator of perceptual and cognitive activity. Here we used a scene onset delay paradigm to investigate the degree to which individual fixation durations are under direct moment-to-moment control of the viewer’s current visual scene. During saccades just prior to critical fixations, the scene was removed from view so that when the eyes landed, no scene was present. Following a manipulated delay period, the scene was restored to view. We found that one population of fixations was under the direct control of the current scene, increasing in duration as delay increased. A second population of fixations was relatively constant across delay. The pattern of data did not change whether delay duration was random or blocked, suggesting that the effects were not under the strategic control of the viewer. The results support a mixed control model in which the durations of some fixations proceed regardless of scene presence, whereas others are under the direct moment-to-moment control of ongoing scene analysis.


Visual Search Direct Control Fixation Duration Onset Delay Critical Fixation 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland
  2. 2.Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing

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