Visual exploration dynamics are low-dimensional and driven by intrinsic factors

Andrea Zangrossi, Giorgia Cona, Miriam Celli, Marco Zorzi, Maurizio Corbetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


When looking at visual images, the eyes move to the most salient and behaviourally relevant objects. Saliency and semantic information significantly explain where people look. Less is known about the spatiotemporal properties of eye movements (i.e., how people look). We show that three latent variables explain 60% of eye movement dynamics of more than a hundred observers looking at hundreds of different natural images. The first component explaining 30% of variability loads on fixation duration, and it does not relate to image saliency or semantics; it approximates a power-law distribution of gaze steps, an intrinsic dynamic measure, and identifies observers with two viewing styles: static and dynamic. Notably, these viewing styles were also identified when observers look at a blank screen. These results support the importance of endogenous processes such as intrinsic dynamics to explain eye movement spatiotemporal properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1100
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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