Longer fixation duration while viewing face images

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The spatio-temporal properties of saccadic eye movements can be influenced by the cognitive demand and the characteristics of the observed scene. Probably due to its crucial role in social communication, it is argued that face perception may involve different cognitive processes compared with non-face object or scene perception. In this study, we investigated whether and how face and natural scene images can influence the patterns of visuomotor activity. We recorded monkeys' saccadic eye movements as they freely viewed monkey face and natural scene images. The face and natural scene images attracted similar number of fixations, but viewing of faces was accompanied by longer fixations compared with natural scenes. These longer fixations were dependent on the context of facial features. The duration of fixations directed at facial contours decreased when the face images were scrambled, and increased at the later stage of normal face viewing. The results suggest that face and natural scene images can generate different patterns of visuomotor activity. The extra fixation duration on faces may be correlated with the detailed analysis of facial features.

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