Influence of semantic consistency and perceptual features on visual attention during scene viewing in toddlers

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Andrea Helo - , Universität Paris Descartes 5, Universidad de Chile (Autor:in)
  • Sandrien van Ommen - , Universität Paris Descartes 5 (Autor:in)
  • Sebastian Pannasch - , Professur für Ingenieurpsychologie und angewandte Kognitionsforschung, Technische Universität Dresden (Autor:in)
  • Lucile Danteny-Dordoigne - , Universität Paris Descartes 5 (Autor:in)
  • Pia Rämä - , Universität Paris Descartes 5, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) (Autor:in)


Conceptual representations of everyday scenes are built in interaction with visual environment and these representations guide our visual attention. Perceptual features and object-scene semantic consistency have been found to attract our attention during scene exploration. The present study examined how visual attention in 24-month-old toddlers is attracted by semantic violations and how perceptual features (i. e. saliency, centre distance, clutter and object size) and linguistic properties (i. e. object label frequency and label length) affect gaze distribution. We compared eye movements of 24-month-old toddlers and adults while exploring everyday scenes which either contained an inconsistent (e.g., soap on a breakfast table) or consistent (e.g., soap in a bathroom) object. Perceptual features such as saliency, centre distance and clutter of the scene affected looking times in the toddler group during the whole viewing time whereas looking times in adults were affected only by centre distance during the early viewing time. Adults looked longer to inconsistent than consistent objects either if the objects had a high or a low saliency. In contrast, toddlers presented semantic consistency effect only when objects were highly salient. Additionally, toddlers with lower vocabulary skills looked longer to inconsistent objects while toddlers with higher vocabulary skills look equally long to both consistent and inconsistent objects. Our results indicate that 24-month-old children use scene context to guide visual attention when exploring the visual environment. However, perceptual features have a stronger influence in eye movement guidance in toddlers than in adults. Our results also indicate that language skills influence cognitive but not perceptual guidance of eye movements during scene perception in toddlers.


Seiten (von - bis)248-266
FachzeitschriftInfant Behavior and Development
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Nov. 2017

Externe IDs

PubMed 29028583
ORCID /0000-0002-6673-9591/work/150883616



  • eye movement development, saliency, Scene viewing, semantic knowledge, vocabulary skills