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An implicit measure of undetected change

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

Several paradigms (e.g. change blindness, inattentional blindness, transsaccadic integration) indicate that observers are often very poor at reporting changes to their visual environment. Such evidence has been used to suggest that the spatio-temporal coherence needed to represent change can only occur in the presence of focused attention. However, those studies almost always rely on explicit reports. It remains a possibility that the visual system can implicitly detect change, but that in the absence of focused attention, the change does not reach awareness and consequently is not reported. To test this possibility, we used a simple change detection paradigm coupled with a speeded orientation discrimination task. Even when observers reported being unaware of a change in an item's orientation, its final orientation effectively biased their response in the orientation discrimination task. Both in aware and unaware trials, errors were most frequent when the changed item and the probe had incongruent orientations. These results demonstrate that the nature of the change can be represented in the absence of awareness.

Affiliations: 1: Cambridge Basic Research, Nissan Technical Center North America, Inc., Cambridge, MA, USA; 2: Psychology Department, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA


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