Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Lucas Parra


Saccades are rapid eye movements that move our gaze between successive points of fixation. They are indicative of how we direct our attention and therefore play a role in memory and cognition. For static images, it is established that saccades move faster to faces compared to other objects. We hypothesize that the same is true for videos. To test this hypothesis, saccades to faces in motion pictures have been analyzed. The analysis here entails the recording of saccades to two videos followed by a statistical study of saccades going towards faces or going away from faces. What makes this study relevant is that videos as stimuli can be very different from images. As compared to images, videos encapsulate features such as facial expressions, audio, captions, background, and foreground motion etc.. To carry out the study, two cartoon videos, each ten minutes in duration, were shown to human subjects while recording their saccades. We also tracked the location of faces in the videos. Saccade data was compared to the position of faces on the screen to determine whether saccades moved to faces or away from faces. We expected faster velocities for saccades to faces. The results are consistent with expectations. Saccade amplitudes and velocities show difference when going to faces or away from them. Faces are special compared to other visual stimuli and this study indicates that saccades are significantly longer and faster going towards faces. In conclusion, faces attract significant attention. Whether in static images or videos, saccades towards faces are faster and longer. Having analyzed saccade amplitudes and velocities in videos, it can be stated that despite other features in videos such as centering (to the screen) of the central characters, scene cuts, character movement during a scene, faces remain the dominant attention grabbing feature.


Made the recommended changes. Removed advisor title from the abstract. Also, made some changes to contents page.



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