May 2008
Volume 8, Issue 6
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2008
Proofreaders show a generalized ability to allocate attention to detect changes
Author Affiliations
  • Michiko Asano
    The University of Tokyo, and JSPS Research Fellow
  • Shoko Kanaya
    The University of Tokyo
  • Kazuhiko Yokosawa
    The University of Tokyo
Journal of Vision May 2008, Vol.8, 462. doi:
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      Michiko Asano, Shoko Kanaya, Kazuhiko Yokosawa; Proofreaders show a generalized ability to allocate attention to detect changes. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):462.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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In proofreading, attention should be allocated to the entire text in order to detect anomalous words that do not fit the sentence context. Professional proofreaders are thought to have excellent control of attentional allocation, which could generalize to other tasks. To test this hypothesis, professional proofreaders were compared to novices using change blindness and visual search tasks. The two groups were matched in age, and did not differ in estimated vocabulary scores or in reading span, which is a measure of verbal working memory capacity. As expected, the professional proofreaders performed much better than novices in an anomalous word detection task. We used the flicker paradigm with a change blindness task using scene pictures as stimuli. The results showed that proofreaders detected more changes than novices. The location of the change had no impact on the proofreaders, while novices missed more changes in the lower half of the scene pictures. These findings suggest that professional proofreaders allocate attention to the entire scene, in contrast to novices' attention which tends to be attracted to the upper part of visual scenes. In the visual search task, where participants reported the number of digits among letters, an exhaustive search was needed even though the targets were predesignated. The results showed no differences in search performance between the two groups. This implies that professional proofreaders have a highly developed ability for attentional allocation in exhaustive search situations where detection targets are not predesignated. This ability to generalize attentional allocation, which is characteristic of skilled proofreaders, is applicable to other tasks such as change detection.

Asano, M. Kanaya, S. Yokosawa, K. (2008). Proofreaders show a generalized ability to allocate attention to detect changes [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 8(6):462, 462a,, doi:10.1167/8.6.462. [CrossRef]

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