Preferential Looking at Particular Stimuli

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Preferential looking describes an untrained response to view one particular visual stimulus over another. The interpretation is that some stimuli are more interesting or salient than others and these attract greater visual attention. In cognitive psychology experiments, subjects (animal or human) are given two more visual stimuli and gaze is measured to determine which stimulus elicits the more immediate visual attention. A classic version of these experiments is the visual paired comparison task where individuals are first shown a picture. After looking at this for several seconds, a second novel picture is shown in addition to the original one. Individuals preferentially look at the novel picture and this visual preference for novelty is used as a marker for recognition memory.

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