TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: The Need for Attention to Perceive Changes in Scenes

  title={TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: The Need for Attention to Perceive Changes in Scenes},
  author={Ronald A. Rensink and J. Kevin O'Regan and James J. Clark},
  journal={Psychological Science},
  pages={368 - 373}
When looking at a scene, observers feel that they see its entire structure in great detail and can immediately notice any changes in it. However, when brief blank fields are placed between alternating displays of an original and a modified scene, a striking failure of perception is induced: Identification of changes becomes extremely difficult, even when changes are large and made repeatedly. Identification is much faster when a verbal cue is provided, showing that poor visibility is not the… 

Figures from this paper

On the Failure to Detect Changes in Scenes Across Brief Interruptions
When brief blank fields are placed between alternating displays of an original and a modified scene, a striking failure of perception is induced: The changes become extremely difficult to notice,
What's Scene and Not Seen: Influences of Movement and Task Upon What We See
Studies concerning the processing of natural scenes using eye movement equipment have revealed that observers retain surprisingly little information from one fixation to the next. Other studies, in
Seeing, sensing, and scrutinizing
Using Visual Change Detection to Examine the Functional Architecture of Visual Short-Term Memory
A common problem in vision research is explaining how humans perceive a coherent, detailed and stable world despite the fact that the eyes make constant, jumpy movements and the fact that only a
Change Detection: Paying Attention To Detail
Changes made during a brief visual interruption sometimes go undetected, even when the object undergoing the change is at the center of the observer's interest and spatial attention (Simons & Levin,
Characterizing a snapshot of perceptual experience
Failure to detect changes to attended objects in motion pictures
Our intuition that we richly represent the visual details of our environment is illusory. When viewing a scene, we seem to use detailed representations of object properties and interobject relations
Coherence of visual representations: Attention and integration of contour shape information
It is shown, using a novel combination of established change blindness paradigms, that changes can go unnoticed even when they occur on isolated 2-D contour shapes.
Attentional bias in change detection
57 We live in a constantly changing environment and change detection is important in order to efficiently function in the world that surrounds us. Our sensory organs are biased to register changes in


Orienting of Visual Attention
Spatial selectivity, which is essential in the perception of any visual scene or display, can be accomplished in two quite distinct ways. First, overt adjustments of gaze direction can be made to
Familiarity and visual change detection
  • H. Pashler
  • Psychology
    Perception & psychophysics
  • 1988
Detection of change when one display of familiar objects replaces another display might be based purely upon visual codes, or also on identity information (i.e., knowingwhat was presentwhere in the
Tracking multiple independent targets: evidence for a parallel tracking mechanism.
Two studies are reported which suggest that, while certain aspects of attention require that locations be scanned serially, at least one operation may be carried out in parallel across several independent loci in the visual field, that is the operation of indexing features and tracking their identity.
Cognitive determinants of fixation location during picture viewing.
  • G. Loftus, N. Mackworth
  • Psychology
    Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance
  • 1978
Findings imply a role of cognitive factors in peripheral visual processing and suggest a possible relationship between the nature of information initially acquired from a picture and subsequent recognition memory for that picture.
Selective looking: Attending to visually specified events
Information integration across saccadic eye movements
Solving the "real" mysteries of visual perception: the world as an outside memory.
This paper discusses several defects of vision and the classical theories of how they are overcome, and suggests an alternative approach, in which the outside world is considered as a kind of external memory store which can be accessed instantaneously by casting one's eyes (or one's attention) to some location.