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J Vis. 2006 Dec 18;6(12):1459-70.

Interference from filled delays on visual change detection.

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Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.


Failure to detect changes to salient visual input across a brief interval has popularized the use of change detection, a paradigm that plays important roles in recent studies of visual perception, short-term memory, and consciousness. Much research has focused on the nature of visual representation for the pre- and postchange displays, yet little is known about how visual change detection is interfered with by events inserted between the pre- and postchange displays. To address this question, we tested change detection of colors, spatial locations, and natural scenes, when the interval between changes was (1) blank, (2) filled with a visual scene, or (3) filled with an auditory word. Participants were asked to either ignore the filled visual or auditory event or attend to it by categorizing it as animate or inanimate. Results showed that the ability to detect visual changes was dramatically impaired by attending to a secondary task during the delay. This interference was significant for auditory as well as for visual interfering events and was invariant to the complexity of the prechange displays. Passive listening produced no interference, whereas passive viewing produced small but significant interference. We conclude that visual change detection relies significantly on central, amodal attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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