Sensing without seeing in comparative visual search

Consciousness and Cognition 17 (3):672-687 (2008)
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Rensink [Rensink, R. A. . Visual sensing without seeing. Psychological Science, 15, 27–32] has presented evidence suggesting visual changes may be sensed without an accompanying visual experience. Here, we report two experiments in which we monitored observers’ eye-movements whilst they searched for a difference between two simultaneously presented images and pressed separate response keys when a difference was seen or sensed. We first assessed whether sensing performance was random by collecting ratings of confidence in the validity of sensing and assessing gaze location during sensing. Sensing was not random: fixation position and confidence ratings were different when a difference was present compared to catch trials. Furthermore, the uniformity of objects in the images and the type of difference appear to affect seeing and sensing differently, suggesting that these processes are dissociated. The possibility is discussed of a sensing mechanism that increases vigilance toward unconsciously registered differences, particularly changes to scene layout



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