The limits of visual resolution in natural scene viewing

Lester C. Loschky, George W. McConkie, Jian Yang, Michael E. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We examined the limits of visual resolution in natural scene viewing, using a gaze-contingent multiresolutional display having a gaze-centred area-of-interest and decreasing resolution with eccentricity. Twelve participants viewed high-resolution scenes in which gaze-contingent multiresolutional versions occasionally appeared for single fixations. Both detection of image degradation (five filtering levels plus a no-area-of-interest control) in the gaze-contingent multiresolutional display, and eye fixation durations, were well predicted by a model of eccentricity-dependent contrast sensitivity. The results also illuminate the time course of detecting image filtering. Detection did not occur for fixations below 100 ms, and reached asymptote for fixations above 200 ms. Detectable filtering lengthened fixation durations by 160 ms, and interference from an imminent manual response occurred by 400-450 ms, often lengthening the next fixation. We provide an estimate of the limits of visual resolution in natural scene viewing useful for theories of scene perception, and help bridge the literature on spatial vision and eye movement control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1092
Number of pages36
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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