As any cognitive task, visual search involves a number of underlying processes that cannot be directly observed and measured. In this way, the movement of the eyes certainly represents the most explicit and closest connection we can get to the inner mechanisms governing this cognitive activity. Here we show that the process of eye movement during visual search, consisting of sequences of fixations intercalated by saccades, exhibits distinctive persistent behaviors. Initially, by focusing on saccadic directions and intersaccadic angles, we disclose that the probability distributions of these measures show a clear preference of participants towards a reading-like mechanism (geometrical persistence), whose features and potential advantages for searching/foraging are discussed. We then perform a Multifractal Detrended Fluctuation Analysis (MF-DFA) over the time series of jump magnitudes in the eye trajectory and find that it exhibits a typical multifractal behavior arising from the sequential combination of saccades and fixations. By inspecting the time series composed of only fixational movements, our results reveal instead a monofractal behavior with a Hurst exponent H ≈ 0.7, which indicates the presence of long-range power-law positive correlations (statistical persistence). We expect that our methodological approach can be adopted as a way to understand persistence and strategy-planning during visual search.
|Publication status||Published - 11 Feb 2016|