Global salience of competing stimuli

This is a side project of my PhD, where we explore some aspects of human visual perception of competing stimuli. In particular, we investigate, through eye-tracking experiments and a computational model, what makes a visual stimulus more effective in attracting visual attention when presented next to a competing stimulus. We denote this the global salience of a stimulus, in contrast to the local saliency of specific regions.

Although saliency is a well-studied aspect of visual perception and effective, it is not yet known whether the effectiveness of a visual stimulus in the competition for attention is a function of the local saliency or an independent characteristic. We conduct an eye-tracking experiment where participants freely observe pairs of images. Then, we train a predictive model that effectively learns which images are more likely to attract the first fixation and assigns a global salience score to each of them.

We analyze the global salience scores, as well as the role of familiarity with the visual stimuli and the influence of having to perform a task in the location of the first fixation when the participant is shown competing stimuli.