Cultural and Developmental Influences on Overt Visual Attention to Videos

Omid Kardan*, Laura Shneidman, Sheila Krogh-Jespersen, Suzanne Gaskins, Marc G. Berman, Amanda Woodward

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Top-down influences on observers' overt attention and how they interact with the features of the visual environment have been extensively investigated, but the cultural and developmental aspects of these modulations have been understudied. In this study we investigated these effects for US and Yucatec Mayan infants, children, and adults. Mayan and US participants viewed videos of two actors performing daily Mayan and US tasks in the foreground and the background while their eyes were tracked. Our region of interest analysis showed that viewers from the US looked significantly less at the foreground activity and spent more time attending to the 'contextual' information (static background) compared to Mayans. To investigate how and what visual features of videos were attended to in a comprehensive manner, we used multivariate methods which showed that visual features are attended to differentially by each culture. Additionally, we found that Mayan and US infants utilize the same eye-movement patterns in which fixation duration and saccade amplitude are altered in response to the visual stimuli independently. However, a bifurcation happens by age 6, at which US participants diverge and engage in eye-movement patterns where fixation durations and saccade amplitudes are altered simultaneously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11264
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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