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Durham University



Publication details for Dr Daniel Smith

Smith D.T. & Schenk, T. (2008). Reflexive attention attenuates change blindness (but only briefly). Perception & Psychophysics 70(3): 489-495.

Author(s) from Durham


Humans are remarkably insensitive to large changes in a visual display if the change occurs simultaneously with a secondary perceptual event. A widely held view is that this change blindness occurs because the secondary perceptual event prevents the change from capturing attention. However, whereas some studies have shown that top-down attentional priming can attenuate change blindness, the evidence regarding the effect of bottom-up attentional capture on change blindness is less clear-cut. Here, we compare the effects of attentional capture on change detection with participants’ performance on a well-established attentional paradigm (a Posner-style cuing task). Experiment 1 established the time course of attentional capture in our paradigm. Experiment 2 demonstrated that this attentional capture was associated with facilitated change detection at short (150-msec),but not long (480-msec), latencies. These data show that reflexive attentional shifts facilitate change detection and are consistent with the view that shifts of attention are a necessary precondition for visual awareness.

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