The Dynamic Representation of Scenes
R.A. Rensink, Cambridge Basic Research, Nissan Research & Development, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
In DJ Simons (ed.) Change Blindness and Visual Memory (pp. 17-42). London: Psychology Press. 2000.
Abstract One of the more powerful impressions created by vision is that of a coherent, richly-detailed world where everything is present simultaneously. Indeed, this impression is so compelling that we tend to ascribe these properties not only to the external world, but to our internal representations as well. But results from several recent experiments argue against this latter ascription. For example, changes in images of real-world scenes often go unnoticed when made during a saccade, flicker, blink, or movie cut. This "change blindness" provides strong evidence against the idea that our brains contain a picture-like representation of the scene that is everywhere detailed and coherent.
How then do we represent a scene? It is argued here that focused attention provides spatiotemporal coherence for the stable representation of one object at a time. It is then argued that the allocation of attention can be coordinated to create a "virtual representation". In such a scheme, a stable object representation is formed whenever needed, making it appear to higher levels as if all objects in the scene are represented in detail simultaneously.
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