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The Interplay of Attention and Eye Movements at the Foveal Scale

12:00 pm to 1:30 pm

Abstract: Human vision relies on a tiny region of the retina, the foveola, to achieve high spatial resolution. Foveal vision is of paramount importance in daily activities, yet its study is challenging, as eye movements incessantly displace stimuli across this region. Building on recent advances in eye-tracking and gaze-contingent display, we have examined how attention and eye movements operate at the foveal level. We have shown that exploration of fine spatial detail unfolds following visuomotor strategies reminiscent of those occurring at larger scales. Together with highly precise control of attention, this motor activity is linked to non-homogenous processing within the foveola and selectively modulates sensitivity both in space and time. Therefore, high acuity vision is not the mere consequence of placing a stimulus at the center of gaze: it is the outcome of a synergy of motor, cognitive, and attentional processes, all finely tuned and dynamically orchestrated.

Martina Poletti, PhD
Martina Poletti, PhD
Assistant Professor, Brain and Cognitive Sciences
University of Rochester

Visual psychophysics, high-resolution eye tracking and gaze-contingent technology to study spatial updating, foveal vision and control of attention and eye movements at the fine scale

Although vision appears to come effortlessly to us, it actually relies on a finely orchestrated interplay between sensory processing, the control of motor behavior and the allocation of attentional resources. The overarching goal of my research is to understand how this interplay unfolds enabling visual perception in humans. To this end, my laboratory uses a variety of techniques, including precise eye- and head-tracking, visual psychophysics, and gaze-contingent manipulation of retinal stimulation. I am particularly interested in visual functions within the foveola, a small high-acuity region of the retina (approximately the size of the index’s fingernail at arm’s length) that humans use to inspect objects of interest.

To request any disability-related accommodations for this event please contact the event coordinator at least three business days prior to the event.
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Friday, October 29, 2021 - 12:00pm


Faculty, Staff, Students
University of Arizona Health Sciences


Tucson area
Main Campus – Tucson
Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Building
Room 205
1131 E 2nd Street


Mary Peterson
Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplanary Program