Abstract

Detecting changes in real-world objects: The relationship between visual long-term memory and change blindness
A large body of literature has shown that observers often fail to notice significant changes in visual scenes, even when these changes happen right in front of their eyes. For instance, people often fail to notice if their conversation partner is switched to another person, or if large background objects suddenly disappear [1,2]. These 'change blindness' studies have led to the inference that the amount of information we remember about each item in a visual scene may be quite low [1]. However, in recent work we have demonstrated that long-term memory is capable of storing a massive number of visual objects with significant detail about each item [3]. In the present paper we attempt to reconcile these findings by demonstrating that observers do not experience 'change blindness' with the real world objects used in our previous experiment if they are given sufficient time to encode each item. Our results (see also refs. 4 and 5) suggest that one of the major causes of change blindness for real-world objects is a lack of encoding time or attention to each object.

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