Machine learning-based classification of viewing behavior using a wide range of statistical oculomotor features

T. Kootstra, J. Teuwen, J. Goudsmit, T. Nijboer, M. Dodd and S. Van der Stigchel

Journal of Vision 2020;20:1.


Since the seminal work of Yarbus, multiple studies have demonstrated the influence of task-set on oculomotor behavior and the current cognitive state. In more recent years, this field of research has expanded by evaluating the costs of abruptly switching between such different tasks. At the same time, the field of classifying oculomotor behavior has been moving toward more advanced, data-driven methods of decoding data. For the current study, we used a large dataset compiled over multiple experiments and implemented separate state-of-the-art machine learning methods for decoding both cognitive state and task-switching. We found that, by extracting a wide range of oculomotor features, we were able to implement robust classifier models for decoding both cognitive state and task-switching. Our decoding performance highlights the feasibility of this approach, even invariant of image statistics. Additionally, we present a feature ranking for both models, indicating the relative magnitude of different oculomotor features for both classifiers. These rankings indicate a separate set of important predictors for decoding each task, respectively. Finally, we discuss the implications of the current approach related to interpreting the decoding results.

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