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Kugler, Günter; Hart, Bernard M. 't; Kohlbecher, Stefan; Bartl, Klaus; Schumann, Frank; Einhäuser, Wolfgang and Schneider, Erich (2015): Visual Search in the Real World: Color Vision Deficiency Affects Peripheral Guidance, but Leaves Foveal Verification Largely Unaffected. In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Vol. 9, 680 [PDF, 1MB]

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Background: People with color vision deficiencies report numerous limitations in daily life, restricting, for example, their access to some professions. However, they use basic color terms systematically and in a similar manner as people with normal color vision. We hypothesize that a possible explanation for this discrepancy between color perception and behavioral consequences might be found in the gaze behavior of people with color vision deficiency. Methods: A group of participants with color vision deficiencies and a control group performed several search tasks in a naturalistic setting on a lawn. All participants wore a mobile eye-tracking-driven camera with a high foveal image resolution (EyeSeeCam). Search performance as well as fixations of objects of different colors were examined. Results: Search performance was similar in both groups in a color-unrelated search task as well as in a search for yellow targets. While searching for red targets, participants with color vision deficiencies exhibited a strongly degraded performance. This was closely matched by the number of fixations on red objects shown by the two groups. Importantly, once they fixated a target, participants with color vision deficiencies exhibited only few identification errors. Conclusions: In contrast to controls, participants with color vision deficiencies are not able to enhance their search for red targets on a (green) lawn by an efficient guiding mechanism. The data indicate that the impaired guiding is the main influence on search performance, while foveal identification (verification) is largely unaffected by the color vision deficiency.

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