Mary M. HayhoeMary M. Hayhoe, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Center for Perceptual Systems
The College of Liberal Arts
The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Understanding gaze control in the context of behavior

It will be difficult to properly understand the deployment of gaze and its relation to attention without understanding how it functions in the context of natural behavior. What principles control the selection of visual information from the environment? From the results of several studies that monitor eye movements in both real and virtual environments, several principles emerge. First, both selection and storage of visual information in natural tasks depend on momentary task relevance. Thus to understand gaze control we will need to have a theory that takes into account the priority structure of natural tasks. Second, observers deal with attentional limitations by using memory representations, and do not re-attend or re-fixate information that is typically stable. Thus an important determinant of gaze control may be what observers have previously learnt about the dynamic properties of the world. Third, observers are sensitive to the statistical properties of the visual scene and rapidly modify attentional allocation when changes occur. These principles provide a basis for understanding the generation of complex gaze sequences involved in natural visually guided behavior.

About the speaker
Mary Hayhoe is a Professor in the Psychology Department and the Center for Perceptual Systems at the University of Texas at Austin. She did her undergraduate degree at the University of Queensland, Australia and her Ph D in Psychology at the University of California at San Diego. Before moving to UT, she was at the Center for Visual Science at the University of Rochester where she was Associate Director of the Center from 1992 to 2001 and Director of the Cognitive Science Program 1998 to 2000.
She is recognized for her work in eye movements, attention, and working memory, particularly in natural tasks and environments. She has pioneered the use of eye tracking in virtual environments for the investigation of natural visually guided behavior in controlled settings. Her work has been funded by the NIH National Eye Institute and by the NIH Center for Research Resources. She served on the NIH Visual Sciences B study section from 1994-1998. She is a Fellow of the Optical Society and is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Vision and the Board of Directors of Vision Sciences Society.