When visual changes are accompanied by visual transients, such as in the case of saccades, eye blinks, and brief flickers, they often go unnoticed; this phenomenon is called change blindness (Rensink, R. A. (2002). Change detection. Annual Review of Psychology 53, 245; Simons, D. J., & Levin, D. T. (1997). Change blindness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 1, 261). Change blindness occurs even when the position of visual transients does not cover the location of the change (as in the 'mudsplash' paradigm) (O'Regan, J. K., Rensink, R. A., & Clark, J. J. (1999). Nature 398, 34). By using a simplified mudsplash display, the present study investigated whether change blindness depends on (a) the timing of visual transients, and (b) the task that observers perform. Eight Gabor elements with random orientations were presented. One element (target) was rotated 45 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise without a temporal gap. High contrast visual transients, not overlapping with the elements, appeared at various times with respect to the target change. Observers reported where the change was (change localization), or in which direction the target rotated (change identification). Change localization was impaired primarily when the onset of the transient was at or after the change. In contrast, change identification was impaired mainly when the transient preceded the change. These results suggest that change localization and change identification are mediated in part by different mechanisms.
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