Two Kansas State University psychology researchers say the most surprising part of their study is that they didn't anticipate peripheral vision to be so important for perceiving scenes.
Assistant Professor Lester Loschky and graduate student Adam Larson said they are attempting to determine how people understand and label what they see.
"We found that your peripheral vision is important for taking in the gist of a scene and that you can remove the central portion of an image, where your visual acuity is best, and still do just fine at identifying the scene," Larson said.
Loschky and Larson also showed people's central vision benefited more from just a few additional pixels than did their peripheral vision. That, they said, suggests how the areas of our eyes known as our visual fields use information differently.
The study is detailed in the Journal of Vision.