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Coevolution of visual behaviour, the material world and social complexity, depicted by the eye-tracking of archaeological objects in humans

AuthorsCriado-Boado, Felipe CSIC ORCID ; Alonso-Pablos, Diego; Blanco, Manuel J.; Porto Tenreiro, Yolanda CSIC ; Rodríguez-Paz, Anxo CSIC ORCID ; Cabrejas, Elena CSIC ORCID ; DelBarrio-Álvarez, Elena; Martínez, Luis M.
Issue Date8-Mar-2019
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitationScientific Reports 9: 3985 (2019)
AbstractWe live in a cluttered visual world that is overflowing with information, the continuous processing of which would be a truly daunting task. Nevertheless, our brains have evolved to select which part of a visual scene is to be prioritized and analysed in detail, and which parts can be discarded or analysed at a later stage. This selection is in part determined by the visual stimuli themselves, and is known as “selective attention”, which, in turn, determines how we explore and interact with our environment, including the distinct human artefacts produced in different socio-cultural contexts. Here we hypothesize that visual responses and material objects should therefore co-evolve to reflect changes in social complexity and culture throughout history. Using eye-tracking, we analysed the eye scan paths in response to prehistoric pottery ranging from the Neolithic through to the Iron Age (ca 6000–2000 BP), finding that each ceramic style caused a particular pattern of visual exploration. Horizontal movements become dominant in earlier periods, while vertical movements are more frequent in later periods that were marked by greater social complexity.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39661-w
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