Evidence for preserved representations in change blindness

Consciousness and Cognition 11 (1):78-97 (2002)
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Abstract

People often fail to detect large changes to scenes, provided that the changes occur during a visual disruption. This phenomenon, known as ''change blindness,'' occurs both in the laboratory and in real-world situations in which changes occur unexpectedly. The pervasiveness of the inability to detect changes is consistent with the theoretical notion that we internally represent relatively little information from our visual world from one glance at a scene to the next. However, evidence for change blindness does not necessarily imply the absence of such a representation-people could also miss changes if they fail to compare an existing representation of the pre-change scene to the post-change scene. In three experiments, we show that people often do have a representation of some aspects of the pre-change scene even when they fail to report the change. And, in fact, they appear to ''discover'' this memory and can explicitly report details of a changed object in response to probing questions. The results of these real-world change detection studies are discussed in the context of broader claims about change blindness.

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Daniel Simons
University of Manchester