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Title: The role of eye movements in figure perception
Author: Gale, Alastair George
ISNI:       0000 0001 3486 6775
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 1980
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The figure-ground distinction is particularly interesting where the same stimulus can give rise to more than the one interpretation of figure. The work presented here examines the role of eye movements in such figure perception. The figure-ground dichotomy is first elaborated and stimuli which can give different figural interpretations are classified as reversible perspective or ambiguous figures. Theories which have been proposed to account for such figure perception are then reviewed and it is argued that a schematic map theory offers a plausible explanation. The parameters which have been studied with regard to these stimuli are then considered and it is argued that the role of eye movements has not been adequately investigated. Stimuli are then proposed to be composed of elements which are differentially weighted towards each figural aspect. Figure perception is largely a result of an observer selectively attending to these elements as determined by the schematic map. Eye movements function to move such attention about the stimulus. A series of afterimage experiments then examines the existence of such elements in a line drawing of Boring's ambiguous figure. The response of figure was found to be governed by the elements to which the subject could attend. Two free-viewing experiments are then reported which demonstrated that in a non- stabilised condition the immediate response of figure was determined by the elements present in the stimulus. No age-related effects of such elements were found when children served as subjects. Eye movement types and recording techniques are then reviewed and an inconspicuous recording method developed. Subjects' eye movements were then recorded as they viewed versions of the ambiguous figure. The results are interpreted as supporting a schematic map explanation. A model is finally developed to account for the role of eye movements in figure perception.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology