A Case study of problem solving in eye-tracking

Özdemir, Doruk
Traditional theories of cognition have been critiqued for underestimating the role and contributions of embodied processes, more specifically the role of sensorimotor skills, in higher-order cognitive processes such as reasoning and problem-solving. Embodied theories of cognition have started to emphasize and illustrate the prominent roles of lower-level processes and sensorimotor skills in mental processes. This thesis aims to reveal the connection between higher cognitive skills, specifically problem-solving processes and sensorimotor skills, specifically eye movements. In the thesis, three almost equally hard problems have been chosen in order to observe participants’ eye-movements via eye-tracking method (Tobii Eye-Tracker). Participants have been presented three problems in three different conditions and they were asked to solve them while looking at the screen. These problems are the river problem, the Tower of Hanoi, and the Water Jug problem. The three conditions have been presented sequentially; (1) visual-aid (with a picture), (2) blank screen, (3) fixation conditions. The order of the conditions is kept the same among all of the participants, while they are asked a different problem in each condition. The participants are asked to solve the puzzles by reporting the minimum number of actions required and select the correct answer when prompted. The results of the experiment indicated that problem solving performance was not significantly impaired by the restrictions imposed on the availability of visual cues and the restrictions enforced on eye movements. This suggests that sensory modalities (vision) and their bodily extensions like eye movements may not be the strongest factor underpinning the management of higher-order cognitive functions in the context of well-defined visuospatial reasoning tasks, as predicted by the radical embodied cognition view. However, the similarities between scan paths observed during picture and blank condition suggest that eye-movements act as an important facilitation mechanism for the management of attentional resources during such problem solving processes.


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Citation Formats
D. Özdemir, “A Case study of problem solving in eye-tracking,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2013.