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Attenuated Change Blindness for Exogenously Attended Items in a Flicker Paradigm

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When two scenes are alternately displayed, separated by a mask, even large, repeated changes between the scenes often go unnoticed for surprisingly long durations. Change blindness of this sort is attenuated at "centres of interest" in the scenes, however, supporting a theory of change blindness in which attention is necessary to perceive such changes (Rensink, O'Regan, & Clark, 1997). Problems with this measure of attentional selection - via verbally described "centres of interest" - are discussed, including worries about describability and explanatory impotence. Other forms of attentional selection, not subject to these problems, are employed in a "flicker" experiment to test the attention-based theory of change detection. Attenuated change blindness is observed at attended items when attentional selection is realized via involuntary exogenous capture of visual attention - to late-onset items and colour singletons - even when these manipulations are uncorrelated with the loci of the changes, and are thus irrelevant to the change detection task. These demonstrations ground the attention-based theory of change blindness in a type of attentional selection which is understood more rigorously than are "centres of interest". At the same time, these results have important implications concerning the nature of exogenous attentional capture.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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