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Title: Visual Attention and Cognitive Archaeology: An Eye-Tracking Study of Palaeolithic Stone Tools
Authors: Silva-Gago, María
Ioannidou, Flora
Fedato, Annapaola
Hodgson, Timothy
Bruner, Emiliano
Keywords: Saccades;Saliency maps;Archaeology;Vision;Action affordances
Issue Date: Jan-2022
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Citation: Perception, 2022, 51(1), 3-24
Abstract: The study of lithic technology can provide information on human cultural evolution. This article aims to analyse visual behaviour associated with the exploration of ancient stone artefacts and how this relates to perceptual mechanisms in humans. In Experiment 1, we used eye tracking to record patterns of eye fixations while participants viewed images of stone tools, including examples of worked pebbles and handaxes. The results showed that the focus of gaze was directed more towards the upper regions of worked pebbles and on the basal areas for handaxes. Knapped surfaces also attracted more fixation than natural cortex for both tool types. Fixation distribution was different to that predicted by models that calculate visual salience. Experiment 2 was an online study using a mouse-click attention tracking technique and included images of unworked pebbles and ‘mixed’ images combining the handaxe's outline with the pebble's unworked texture. The pattern of clicks corresponded to that revealed using eye tracking and there were differences between tools and other images. Overall, the findings suggest that visual exploration is directed towards functional aspects of tools. Studies of visual attention and exploration can supply useful information to inform understanding of human cognitive evolution and tool use.
ISSN: 0301-0066
DOI: 10.1177/03010066211069504
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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