Thursday, January 13, 2011

When it's moving, it's hard to see it changing.

Change blindness is a phenomenon whereby people fail to detect sizable changes in a visual scene. This can occur even when they are actively trying to locate the change (Simons & Ambinder, 2005). If you are unaware of this phenomenon, you can go to UBC's psychology department where they have some interesting video examples.

In a new study, Suchow & Alvarez (2011) demonstrates a novel visual illusion whereby motion induces failure to detect change - or what they call 'silencing'. Look at the video embedded below. Initially, the dots are visibly changing in colour but once the rotation begins, the dots appear to stop changing or at least appear to change at a slower rate. Additional video demonstrations looking at brightness, size and shape can be found here.

Motion silences awareness of color changes from Jordan Suchow on Vimeo.

They found that the faster the rotation, the slower the dots appear to change (i.e. stronger silencing).
Click to enlarge

In an additional set of experiments, they further determined that motion on the retina and not motion in space is responsible for silencing. Pretty nifty visual illusion huh.

*We are glad to have our first post based on a reader article submission and welcome additional submissions. Spread the word!

ResearchBlogging.orgSuchow JW, & Alvarez GA (2011). Motion Silences Awareness of Visual Change. Current biology : CB PMID: 21215632
Simons, D., & Ambinder, M. (2005). Change Blindness. Theory and Consequences Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14 (1), 44-48 DOI: 10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00332.x

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