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Preliminary investigation of visual attention to human figures in photographs: potential considerations for the design of aided AAC visual scene displays

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TitlePreliminary investigation of visual attention to human figures in photographs: potential considerations for the design of aided AAC visual scene displays
Publication TypeJournal Article
AbstractPURPOSE Many individuals with complex communication needs may benefit from visual aided augmentative and alternative communication systems. In visual scene displays (VSDs), language concepts are embedded into a photograph of a naturalistic event. Humans play a central role in communication development and might be important elements in VSDs. However, many VSDs omit human figures. In this study, the authors sought to describe the distribution of visual attention to humans in naturalistic scenes as compared with other elements. METHOD Nineteen college students observed 8 photographs in which a human figure appeared near 1 or more items that might be expected to compete for visual attention (such as a Christmas tree or a table loaded with food). Eye-tracking technology allowed precise recording of participants' gaze. The fixation duration over a 7-s viewing period and latency to view elements in the photograph were measured. RESULTS Participants fixated on the human figures more rapidly and for longer than expected based on the size of these figures, regardless of the other elements in the scene. CONCLUSIONS Human figures attract attention in a photograph even when presented alongside other attractive distracters. Results suggest that humans may be a powerful means to attract visual attention to key elements in VSDs.
AuthorsWilkinson, K. M., and Light J. C.
Year of Publication2011
Date PublishedDec
PublicationJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume54
Issue6
Pages1644-57
ISSN1558-9102 (print), 1092-4388 (electronic)
Publisher DOIhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3462357/
Notes*Public access Author Manuscript text*
Keywords (MeSH)adolescent, attention, communication aids for disabled, communication disorders, equipment design, eye movements, pilot projects, young adult
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