Failure to detect changes to attended objects in motion pictures
Our intuition that we richly represent the visual details of our environment is illusory. When viewing a scene, we seem to use detailed representations of object properties and interobject relations to achieve a sense of continuity across views. Yet, several recent studies show that human observers fail to detect changes to objects and object properties when localized retinal information signaling a change is masked or eliminated (e.g., by eye movements). However, these studies changed arbitrarily chosen objects which may have been outside the focus of attention. We draw on previous research showing the importance of spatiotemporal information for tracking objects by creating short motion pictures in which objects in both arbitrary locations and the very center of attention were changed. Adult observers failed to notice changes in both cases, even when the sole actor in a scene transformed into another person across an instantaneous change in camera angle (or “cut”).