Disentangling the mechanisms underlying infant fixation durations in scene perception: A computational account

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Abstract

The goal of this article is to investigate the unexplored mechanisms underlying the development of saccadic control in infancy by determining the generalizability and potential limitations of extending the CRISP theoretical framework and computational model of fixation durations (FDs) in adult scene-viewing to infants. The CRISP model was used to investigate the underlying mechanisms modulating FDs in 6-month-olds by applying the model to empirical eye-movement data gathered from groups of infants and adults during free-viewing of naturalistic and semi-naturalistic videos. Participants also performed a gap-overlap task to measure their disengagement abilities. Results confirmed the CRISP model's applicability to infant data. Specifically, model simulations support the view that infant saccade programming is completed in two stages: an initial labile stage, followed by a non-labile stage. Moreover, results from the empirical data and simulation studies highlighted the influence of the material viewed on the FD distributions in infants and adults, as well as the impact that the developmental state of the oculomotor system can have on saccade programming and execution at 6 months. The present work suggests that infant FDs reflect on-line perceptual and cognitive activity in a similar way to adults, but that the individual developmental state of the oculomotor system affects this relationship at 6 months. Furthermore, computational modeling filled the gaps of psychophysical studies and allowed the effects of these two factors on FDs to be simulated in infant data providing greater insights into the development of oculomotor and attentional control than can be gained from behavioral results alone.

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