Here are some videos describing the research we’ve delved into over the years:

Inattentional Blindness Videos

Ever saw a magic show and wondered just how the magician took your watch without you even noticing? Ever wonder why is it that you can search for a set of misplaced keys for a long time, only to later find them sitting in the exact place where you were looking? Research has shown that we don’t always see everything we’re looking at, and that attention plays a big part in what consciously registers to us. The effect where we’re blind to things we don’t attend to is known as inattentional blindness.

To see this effect for yourself, try out the following:

Inattentional Blindness Scenario #1

Click to watch the video! (Quicktime)

Inattentional Blindness Scenario #2

Click to watch the video! (Quicktime)

To download: Right click on a video link above, than select “Save as”.

Stay tuned as we will be uploading some more demos that demonstrate this effect. See if you get fooled yourself… then try to trick all your friends! Note that the videos on this site only work when you don’t know what to look for, so if you know the trick in advance, you probably won’t be fooled (as your attentional will be directed to the right areas at the right time).

What’s the Difference between Looking and Seeing?

A large fraction of traffic accidents are of the type “driver looked but failed to see”. Here, drivers collide with pedestrians in plain view, with cars directly in front of them (the classic “rear-ender”), and even run into trains. (That’s right — run into trains, not the other way around.) In such cases, information from the world is entering the driver’s eyes. But at some point along the way this information is lost, causing the driver to lose connection with reality. They are looking but they are not seeing.

What’s going on? Our findings indicate that the critical factor is attention: To see an object change, it is necessary to attend to it.

To show this, we developed a flicker paradigm in which an original and a modified image continually alternate, one after the other, with a brief blank field between the two (see Figure 1 below). The onset of each blank field swamps the local motion signals caused by a change, short-circuiting the automatic system that normally draws attention to its location. Without automatic control, attention is controlled entirely by slower, higher-level mechanisms which search the scene, object by object, until attention lands upon the object that is changing. The change blindness induced under these conditions is a form of invisibility: it can become very difficult to see a change that is obvious once attended.

To see this effect for yourself, try out the following:

  1. Airplane (529K)
  2. Chopper & Truck (604K)
  3. Dinner (584K)
  4. Farm (583K)
  5. Harborside (530K)
  6. Market (551K)
  7. Money (478K)
  8. Sailboats (570K)
  9. Street Corner (527K)
  10. Tourists (585K)

To download: On the File menu, select “Save as”, then select the “Text file” (or “Text”) option.

(Parts of this demos page is adapted from Dr. Rensink’s original page.)