Keynotes of SAGA 2013


Unfortunately, the previously announced talk of Diplom Psychologist Michael Schiessl had to be cancelled due to private reasons. We wish him and his family all the best.

Prof. Dr. Marc Pomplun (UMASS Boston, USA)


Marc Pomplun  is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. In 1998, he received a Ph.D. in Computer Science (Dr. rer. nat.) from Bielefeld University in Germany and the University’s “Best Dissertation in 1998” award. He subsequently conducted research as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto and as a research scientist at the Centre for Vision Research, York University, Canada. In 2002, he joined the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he founded the Visual Attention Laboratory and initiated the Talks in Cognitive Science (TICS) colloquium series. His research focuses on human vision, particularly visual attention and how insight into biological vision can be applied to the fields of computer vision and human-computer interaction. In 2007, he received the Outstanding Achievement Award for Scholarship from the College of Science and Mathematics. By the time of his promotion to Professor in 2012, he had made more than 160 contributions to scientific journals and conferences and obtained research funding as a PI and Co-PI from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education.


Title of the Talk:
Guidance of Visual Attention by Low- and High-Level Features in Real-World Scenes

Several studies have shown that low-level visual features in naturalistic scenes, such as color or contrast, guide attention during inspection and search. I will present the results of our computational modeling studies showing that this guidance depends on the composition of a scene across feature dimensions. Furthermore, high-level features such as object and scene semantics are known to influence the allocation of attention as well. I will discuss our recent studies showing that even the semantic relations among scene objects are significant predictors of shifts of attention. Integrating these guidance mechanisms operating at various levels into one model may lead to a more comprehensive understanding of attentional control in real-world scenes.

Dr. Benjamin Tatler (University of Dundee, Scotland)


Dr. Benjamin Tatler has an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. His dissertation was with Prof. Simon Laughlin and considered how the temporal responses of photoreceptors of the blowfly (Calliphora) change with eccentricity in the eye. He then went on to do a PhD with Prof Mike Land in Sussex looking at what information survives eye movements in real world settings. Following the PhD he spent a further 3 years as a postdoc working with Mike Land. This project looked at how object memories are extracted and retained across eye movements in real and laboratory settings. He joined Dundee as a lecturer in September 2004. His research interests are


Title of the Talk:
Vision in Action

Successful completion of real world activities requires precise control over where and when we move our eyes. Eye movements target behaviourally relevant information in our surroundings. Behaviourally informative locations change with progress through a task, so gaze allocation must be to the right places at the right times to serve behaviour. Current computational models of fixation selection offer high explanatory power for some aspects of static scene viewing, and models of dynamic scene viewing are emerging. However, few engage with the need to consider visual selection as being fundamentally and intricately linked to action. Across a wide variety of natural tasks common fixation selection principles can be identified. These principles change the emphasis of what should be modeled and identify a need for new classes of models for explaining visual behaviour in natural task settings. A framework incorporating behavioral rewards provides a powerful potential framework for explaining eye movement behaviour, and for the development of formal models of eye guidance.

Dr. Ellen Schack, Diplom Psychologist (Epilepsy Center Bethel, Germany)



Ellen Schack graduated 1996 in Psychology at Leipzig University, Germany, where she also received her Ph.D. in 2002. In her thesis she focused on the investigation of mental representation structures in social application fields. From 2001-2007 she stayed at Leipzig University and at the University Clinic of Cologne as a scientific staff member.
Since 2007 she is working at the Berufsbildungswerk Bethel (BBW) in the field of vocational rehabilitation for young people with special needs, in particular with epilepsy. The BBW is part of the Epilepsy Center Bethel. Bethel offers -as largest diaconal institution in Europe – a wide range of care and treatment facilities for disabled people.

Title of the Talk:
Eye Tracking as an Assistive Technology in Professional Training Processes for Disabled People

The Bodelschwingh – Foundation (Bethel) as Europe’s largest institution of Christian social welfare aims to offer a high amount of assistance and support for disabled people. One crucial intention is hereby to enable people with special needs to live a self-determinant life to the greatest extent possible. Assistive technologies can help to realize this aim substancially. To develop appropriate accesses to assistive technologies for people in need different research projects were set up in a cooperation between Bethel and CITEC (Cluster of Excellence, Bielefeld University). In the first part of the talk particular tasks and institutions of Bethel are presented, whereas in a second part a short overview about Bethel-CITEC-cooperation is provided – with focus on a project concerning the development of user and context specific attentive systems. Studies on attentive systems and task dependent attentional processes in disabled persons involve the measurement of attentional processes such as mobile eye-based interaction and eye-based context-awareness. These projects go far beyond usual classical assistive technologies using gaze measurements to facilitate communication with the environment by looking at control keys or cells on a computer display. Research on this topic and derived practical solutions could play an interesting role for Bethel workshops (proWerk) and may help to support self regulation and attention within a zone of proximal development for disabled people. In the final part of the talk, perspectives concerning the link between research on attentional processes and the practical needs within education and work in a caregiving system will be discussed. In this context, e.g. eye tracking is used as a technology to support a training process which enables handicapped people to enter the professional world and therefore to build up an independent existence.