Visualization as a stimulus domain for vision science

Journal of Vision 21 (3):1–18 (2021)
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Traditionally, vision science and information/data visualization have interacted by using knowledge of human vision to help design effective displays. It is argued here, however, that this interaction can also go in the opposite direction: the investigation of successful visualizations can lead to the discovery of interesting new issues and phenomena in visual perception. Various studies are reviewed showing how this has been done for two areas of visualization, namely, graphical representations and interaction, which lend themselves to work on visual processing and the control of visual operations, respectively. The results of these studies have provided new insights into aspects of vision such as grouping, attentional selection and the sequencing of visual operations. More generally yet, such results support the view that the perception of visualizations can be a useful domain for exploring the nature of visual cognition, inspiring new kinds of questions as well as casting new light on the limits to which information can be conveyed visually.

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Ronald A. Rensink
University of British Columbia


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