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Perception. 2012;41(4):489-92.

The penny drops: change blindness at fixation.

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  • 1Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK.


Our perception of the visual world is fallible. Unattended objects may change without us noticing as long as the change does not capture attention (change blindness). However, it is often assumed that changes to a fixated object will be noticed if it is attended. In this experiment we demonstrate that participants fail to detect a change in identity of a coin during a magic trick even though eyetracking indicates that the coin is tracked by the eyes throughout the trick. The change is subsequently detected when participants are instructed to look for it. These results suggest that during naturalistic viewing, attention can be focused on an object at fixation without including all of its features.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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