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Christopher O'Donnell, Stephen RH Langton; Gaze cues attenuate change blindness in the flicker paradigm. Journal of Vision 2003;3(9):649. doi: 10.1167/3.9.649.
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When alternating versions of a scene and a modified version of that scene are separated by a brief blank field, observers take a surprisingly long time to spot even large changes between the two scenes. One theory of this “change blindness” effect holds that attention is necessary to perceive such changes (Rensink, O'Regan and Clark, 1997). In line with this, the two experiments we report here showed that using gaze cues to manipulate participants' attention produced a dramatic influence on change detection. In Experiment 1, participants spotted the change made to a scene sooner when the gaze of an individual appearing in that scene cued the location of the change than in scenes where no cue was present or when a neutral cue was provided. In Experiment 2 congruent gaze cues again facilitated change detection, but here the inclusion of an incongruent cue condition hindered change detection in comparison with a neutral cue condition. Moreover, data from this experiment indicate a relationship between change detection rate and the angular displacement of the changing object from the line of regard of the individual providing the gaze cue. Together these findings represent suggest that gaze cues trigger shifts of an observer's visual attention in natural scenes.
RensinkR. A.O'ReganJ. K.ClarkJ. J. (1997) To see to not to see: The need for attention to perceive changes in scenes. Psychological Science, 8, 368–373.
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