Helmholtz Institute


25 November 2022
16:00 - 17:00
Ruppert Rood, Leuvenlaan 21, 3584 CE Utrecht

Helmholtz lecture Wolfgang Einhäuser, November 25: Attention and gaze in real and virtual worlds

Helmholtz lecture Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Einhäuser-Treyer (Chemnitz University of Technology):

Title: Attention and gaze in real and virtual worlds

Abstract: When studying real-world behavior, experimenters face a trade-off between ecological validity and experimental control. On the one hand stimuli and task shall be as realistic as possible, while on the other hand all relevant variables shall be carefully controlled. In my talk, I will present examples how we use virtual reality (VR) to tackle this tradeoff for studying attention and gaze. The talk will start with results from scene-viewing experiments – how do image features influence where participants look at and how long they dwell there? To what extent are the contributions of these features causal or driven by their relations to higher-order scene structure and what role does the task play? Real-world free-exploration data will highlight that not only the task, but also constraints imposed by the environment and implicit goals (e.g., ensuring safe gait) modulate human gaze behavior. Using a high-fidelity VR reconstruction of a real-world office building and a novel control technique for navigating through the VR, we directly compare gaze behavior between the real world and its virtual copy. This allows us to use the VR setting to investigate scenarios that would be impossible to test in the real world, for example to evaluate different visual displays that aid participants in fighting fires. To modulate environmental constraints, we use a setup that combines VR with high-precision motion capture and a high-performance dual-belt treadmill. With this setup, we perturb participants’ gait (i.e., we make them slip in a realistic – yet controlled and safe – manner) and measure the effect of these perturbations on the interaction between their gaze and their gait stability under a variety of modulatory influences. Such data may eventually be useful to decrease the risk of falling in the real world – a risk that presents major healthy burden, especially in an aging population. This again highlights the importance to study attention and gaze under conditions that are as realistic, as safe, and as controlled as possible and how VR can be used to fulfill these demands simultaneously.

Location: Ruppert Rood, Leuvenlaan 21, 3584 CE Utrecht

Helmholtz Lectures take place from 4 to 5pm, with drinks afterwards in the pantry of the Langeveld building. Lectures are hybrid and streamed live via Teams.

Helmholtz agenda: https://helmholtzschool.nl/category/agenda/

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