Automatic selection of eye tracking variables in visual categorization in adults and infants

by   Samuel Rivera, et al.

Visual categorization and learning of visual categories exhibit early onset, however the underlying mechanisms of early categorization are not well understood. The main limiting factor for examining these mechanisms is the limited duration of infant cooperation (10-15 minutes), which leaves little room for multiple test trials. With its tight link to visual attention, eye tracking is a promising method for getting access to the mechanisms of category learning. But how should researchers decide which aspects of the rich eye tracking data to focus on? To date, eye tracking variables are generally handpicked, which may lead to biases in the eye tracking data. Here, we propose an automated method for selecting eye tracking variables based on analyses of their usefulness to discriminate learners from non-learners of visual categories. We presented infants and adults with a category learning task and tracked their eye movements. We then extracted an over-complete set of eye tracking variables encompassing durations, probabilities, latencies, and the order of fixations and saccadic eye movements. We compared three statistical techniques for identifying those variables among this large set that are useful for discriminating learners form non-learners: ANOVA ranking, Bayes ranking, and L1 regularized logistic regression. We found remarkable agreement between these methods in identifying a small set of discriminant variables. Moreover, the same eye tracking variables allow us to classify category learners from non-learners among adults and 6- to 8-month-old infants with accuracies above 71


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