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An eye-tracking study of inanimate objects

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2009
Issue number4
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)417-436
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Unlike the animate objects, where participants were consistent in their looking patterns, for inanimates it was difficult to identify both consistent areas of fixations and a consistent order of fixations. Furthermore, in comparison to animate objects, inanimates received significantly shorter total looking time, shorter longest looks and a smaller number of overall fixations. However, as with animates, looking patterns did not systematically differ between the naming and non-naming conditions. These results suggested that animacy, but not labelling, impacts on looking behaviour in this paradigm. In the light of feature-based accounts of semantic memory organization, one could interpret these findings as suggesting that processing of the animate objects is based on the saliency/diagnosticity of their visual features (which is then reflected through participants eye-movements towards those features), whereas processing of the inanimate objects is based more on functional features (which cannot be easily captured by looking behaviour in such a paradigm).