Picture Changes During Blinks: Not Seeing Where You Look and Seeing Where You Don't Look
J.K. O'Regan, Lab. Psychologie Experimentale, CNRS, Paris.
H. Deubel, Institute of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich.
J.J. Clark, Computer Science Department, McGill University, Montreal.
R.A. Rensink, Cambridge Basic Research, Cambridge, Mass.

Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 38: 707. 1997. [ARVO 1997; Ft. Lauderdale, FL.]

Observers inspected normal, high quality color displays of everyday visual scenes while their eye movements were recorded. A large display change occurred each time an eye blink occurred. Display changes could either involve "Central Interest" or "Marginal Interest" locations, as determined from descriptions obtained from independent judges in a prior pilot experiment. Luminance, color, and location within the pictures of the Central and Marginal Interest changes were equal.

The results obtained were very similar to those obtained in prior experiments showing failure to detect changes occurring simultaneously with saccades, flicker, or 'mudsplashes' in the visual scene: many changes were very hard to detect, and Marginal Interest changes were harder to detect than Central Interest changes.

Analysis of eye movements showed, as expected, that the probability of detecting a change depended on the eye's distance from the change location. However a surprising finding was that both for Central and Marginal Interest changes, even when observers were directly fixating the change locations (within 1 degree), they still failed to see the changes 50% of the time. It seems that looking at something does not guarantee you "see" it.

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