Modeling eye movements in visual agnosia with a saliency map approach: Bottom–up guidance or top–down strategy?

Tom Foulsham, Jason Barton, Alan Kingstone, Richard Dewhurst, Geoffrey Underwood

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7 Citations (SciVal)


Two recent papers (Foulsham, Barton, Kingstone, Dewhurst, & Underwood, 2009; Mannan, Kennard, & Husain, 2009) report that neuropsychological patients with a profound object recognition problem (visual
agnosic subjects) show differences from healthy observers in the way their eye movements are controlled when looking at images. The interpretation of these papers is that eye movements can be modeled as the selection of points on a saliency map, and that agnosic subjects show an increased reliance on visual saliency, i.e., brightness and contrast in low-level stimulus features. Here we review this approach and present new data from our own experiments with an agnosic patient that quantifies the relationship
between saliency and fixation location. In addition, we consider whether the perceptual difficulties of individual patients might be modeled by selectively weighting the different features involved in a saliency
map. Our data indicate that saliency is not always a good predictor of fixation in agnosia: even for our agnosic subject, as for normal observers, the saliency–fixation relationship varied as a function of the
task. This means that top–down processes still have a significant effect on the earliest stages of scanning in the setting of visual agnosia, indicating severe limitations for the saliency map model. Top–down, active
strategies – which are the hallmark of our human visual system – play a vital role in eye movement control, whether we know what we are looking at or not.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-677
JournalNeural Networks
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Human Aspects of ICT


  • Object recognition
  • Visual attention
  • Neuropsychology
  • Visual saliency
  • Eye movements


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