People use eye movements extremely effectively to find objects of interest in a cluttered visual scene. Distracting, task-irrelevant attention capturing regions in the visual field should be avoided as they jeopardize the efficiency of search. In the current study, we used eye tracking to determine whether people are able to avoid making saccades to a predetermined visual area associated with a financial penalty, while making fast and accurate saccades towards stimuli placed near the penalty area. We found that in comparison to the same task without a penalty area, the introduction of a penalty area immediately affected eye movement behaviour: the proportion of saccades to the penalty area was immediately reduced. Also, saccadic latencies increased, but quite modestly, and mainly for saccades towards stimuli near the penalty area. We conclude that eye movement behaviour is under efficient cognitive control and thus quite flexible: it can immediately be adapted to changing environmental conditions to improve reward outcome.
- 515 Psykologia