Acquiring expertise in complex visual tasks is time consuming. To facilitate the efficient training of novices on where to look in these tasks, we propose an attentional highlighting paradigm. Highlighting involves dynamically modulating the saliency of a visual image to guide attention along the fixation path of a domain expert who had previously viewed the same image. In Experiment 1, we trained naive subjects via attentional highlighting on a fingerprint-matching task. Before and after training, we asked subjects to freely inspect images containing pairs of prints and determine whether the prints matched. Fixation sequences were automatically scored for the degree of expertise exhibited using a Bayesian discriminative model of novice and expert gaze behavior. Highlighted training causes gaze behavior to become more expert-like not only on the trained images but also on transfer images, indicating generalization of learning. In Experiment 2, to control for the possibility that the increase in expertise is due to mere exposure, we trained subjects via highlighting of fixation sequences from novices, not experts, and observed no transition toward expertise. In Experiment 3, to determine the specificity of the training effect, we trained subjects with expert fixation sequences from images other than the one being viewed, which preserves coarse-scale statistics of expert gaze but provides no information about fine-grain features. Observing at least a partial transition toward expertise, we obtain only weak evidence that the highlighting procedure facilitates the learning of critical local features. We discuss possible improvements to the highlighting procedure.
Roads, B., Mozer, M. C., & Busey, T. A. (2016). Using highlighting to train attentional expertise. PLoS ONE, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0146266