Eye movements and scene perception: Memory for things observed

David E. Irwin, Gregory J. Zelinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we examined the characteristics of on-line scene representations, using a partial-report procedure. Subjects inspected a simple scene containing seven objects for 1, 3, 5, 9, or 15 fixations; shortly after scene offset, a marker cued one scene location for report. Consistent with previous research, the results indicated that scene representations are relatively sparse; even after 15 fixations on a scene, the subjects remembered the position/identity pairings for only about 78% of the objects in the scene, or the equivalent of about five objects-worth of information. Report of the last three objects that were foveated and of the object about to be foveated was very accurate, however, suggesting that recently attended information in a scene is represented quite well. Information about the scene appeared to accumulate over multiple fixations, but the capacity of the on-line scene representation appeared to be limited to about five items. Implications for recent theories of scene representation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)882-895
Number of pages14
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • General Psychology


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