Keep an Eye on Your Belongings: Gaze Dynamics Toward Familiar and Unfamiliar Objects

Oryah C. Lancry-Dayan, Tal Nahari, Gershon Ben-Shakhar, Yoni Pertzov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through a series of studies, we investigate how people direct gaze toward familiar and unfamiliar objects. When an observer tries to encode objects, gaze is first directed preferentially to the familiar object followed by a later prioritization of the unfamiliar ones. We demonstrate that the initial prefer-ence reflects prioritization of personally significant information and could be volitionally controlled. The latter prioritization of the unfamiliar objects is determined by the immediate goals due to the task and is less controllable. These findings imply that the mechanism that guides gaze is flexible, affected by both long-term significance and short-term goals and could be only partially controlled. This study has also imperative practical implications for detecting concealed information using eye tracking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by a Grant I-2416-105.4/2016 from the German Israel Foundation, and by a Grant (2414/20) from Israel Science Foundation to Yoni Pertzov and by Grant 238/15 from the Israel Science Foundation to Gershon Ben-Shakhar. Tal Nahari is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the Award of an Azrieli Fellowship. We thank C. Berelejis for assistance in data collecting. We have no known conflict of interest to disclose

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association


  • cognition
  • eye-movements
  • memory detection
  • visual attention
  • volitional control


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