Picture changes during blinks: Looking without seeing and seeing without looking

Visual Cognition 7:191-211 (2000)
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Observers inspected normal, high quality color displays of everyday visual scenes while their eye movements were recorded. A large display change occurred each time an eye blink occurred. Display changes could either involve "Central Interest" or "Marginal Interest" locations, as determined from descriptions obtained from independent judges in a prior pilot experiment. Visual salience, as determined by luminance, color, and position of the Central and Marginal interest changes were equalized. The results obtained were very similar to those obtained in prior experiments showing failure to detect changes occurring simultaneously with saccades, flicker, or “mudsplashes” in the visual scene: Many changes were very hard to detect, and Marginal Interest changes were harder to detect than Central Interest changes. Analysis of eye movements showed, as expected, that the probability of detecting a change depended on the eye’s distance from the change location. However a surprising finding was that both for Central and Marginal Interest changes, evenwhen observers were directly fixating the change locations (within 1 degree),more than 40% of the time they still failed to see the changes. It seems that looking at something does not guarantee you “ see” it.

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Ronald A. Rensink
University of British Columbia

References found in this work

Inattentional Blindness.Arien Mack & Irvin Rock - 1998 - MIT Press. Edited by Richard D. Wright.
Change blindness.Daniel J. Simons & Daniel T. Levin - 1997 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 1 (1):241-82.
On the failure to detect changes in scenes across saccades.John A. Grimes - 1996 - In Kathleen Akins (ed.), Perception. Oxford University Press.
Orienting of attention.M. I. Posner - 1980 - Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 32 (1):3-25.

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