1995 volume 24(9) pages 1075 – 1081

Cite as:
Blackmore S J, Brelstaff G, Nelson K, Troscianko T, 1995, "Is the richness of our visual world an illusion? Transsaccadic memory for complex scenes" Perception 24(9) 1075 – 1081

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Is the richness of our visual world an illusion? Transsaccadic memory for complex scenes

Susan J Blackmore, Gavin Brelstaff, Kay Nelson, Tom Troscianko

Received 16 October 1993, in revised form 7 February 1995

Abstract. Our construction of a stable visual world, despite the presence of saccades, is discussed. A computer-graphics method was used to explore transsaccadic memory for complex images. Images of real-life scenes were presented under four conditions: they stayed still or moved in an unpredictable direction (forcing an eye movement), while simultaneously changing or staying the same. Changes were the appearance, disappearance, or rotation of an object in the scene. Subjects detected the changes easily when the image did not move but when it moved their performance fell to chance. A grey-out period was introduced to mimic that which occurs during a saccade. This also reduced performance but not to chance levels.

These results reveal the poverty of transsaccadic memory for real-life complex scenes. They are discussed with respect to Dennett's view that much less information is available in vision than our subjective impression leads us to believe. Our stable visual world may be constructed out of a brief retinal image and a very sketchy, higher-level representation along with a pop-out mechanism to redirect attention. The richness of our visual world is, to this extent, an illusion.

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