2001 volume 30(8) pages 993 – 1006
doi:10.1068/p3121

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Tatler B W, 2001, "Characterising the visual buffer: real-world evidence for overwriting early in each fixation" Perception 30(8) 993 – 1006

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Characterising the visual buffer: real-world evidence for overwriting early in each fixation

Benjamin W Tatler

Received 24 July 2000, in revised form 14 March 2001

Abstract. What happens to the pictorial content of fixations when we move our eyes? Previous studies demonstrate that observers are very poor at detecting changes in natural scenes that occur across saccades, blinks, and artificial interruptions ('change blindness'). They suggest that the visual 'snapshots' of what is on the retina during a fixation are not retained and fused over successive fixations. I find similar results when volunteers are performing the complex real-life task of making a cup of tea. Volunteers can access the snapshot of the current fixation but not those of previous fixations. I suggest that volunteers are reporting the content of a low-level visual store that holds a veridical snapshot of the current fixation, rather than the retina itself. The snapshots are not 'wiped' by the saccade and remain in the buffer until they are overwritten by a new snapshot. The overwrite occurs in an all-or-none manner and can be at any time within the first 400 ms of each new fixation, with 50% of overwrites being within the first 100 ms.

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