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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.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000


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