Blindsight, Ctd.

A reader writes:

Your post on "blindsight" was interesting and reminded me of Dan Simons' (formerly at Harvard, now at the Beckman Institute at Illinois) work on inattentional blindness (a more accurate term; blindsight typically refers to some neurobiological or physical damage to the visual system where the brain 'sees' something of which we are not consciously aware).

The Paris scene you posted is interesting but I think you and your viewers would agree that the car position and pants change of color are relatively minor and require vigilance and attention. Simons' work showed how blatant the change could be and still be missed.

In two videos that you can see on his website (and the other link below too), people are moving in a circle and passing a basketball around. When experimental subjects are shown these videos, they are instructed to count the number of times one team passes the basketball. However in the middle of the videos either a man with an umbrella or a person in a gorilla suite walks through the scene. Interestingly, most people don't notice this 'dynamic event.' Thus, when actively monitoring something, we may fail to notice or pay attention to something that otherwise would seem very obvious.

You can find an overview of Simon's work here (with link to videos). And Simons' Illinois website is here.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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