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Science

It's Surprisingly Hard To Notice When Moving Objects Change 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-officer-the-traffic-light-was-swinging-in-the-wind dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at Harvard have found that people are remarkably bad at noticing when moving objects change in brightness, color, size, or shape. In a paper published yesterday (PDF) in Current Biology, the researchers present a new visual illusion that 'causes objects that had once been obviously dynamic to suddenly appear static.' The finding has implications for everything from video game design to the training of pilots."
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It's Surprisingly Hard To Notice When Moving Objects Change

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  • Damn Scientists (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flogger (524072) <non@nonegiven> on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:01PM (#34799264) Journal
    As a magician, I have known this for years. Dai Vernon, The Professor [wikipedia.org], explains that concept the scientists just discovered as a simplistic beautiful statement, "A larger action covers (or hides) a smaller action." Science finally catches up to the magicians.. Damn them. :-)
  • by calzones (890942) on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:18PM (#34800216)

    I think in this case, when the ring is static, each individual object is a unique entity. Changes matter.

    When the ring is in motion, each individual object becomes part of the whole. It is now one ring and we ignore changes occuring to the ring.

    This is entirely sensible because when an animal is in motion, we don't care about the muscles rippling, or the feathers ruffling, or the fur shimmering, or the shadows from trees dancing on it. Our survival depends on being able to watch the animal itself as a single unit. So we are hard wired to ignore the micro changes to a single object.

    When the ring moves, all the tiny objects join to become a single ring we must track. When it's not moving, we see they are separate objects.

  • Re:News Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jesus_666 (702802) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @12:52AM (#34801642)
    Except that's not what they tried to show. The site demonstrates that when objects are moving relative to your field of view you become less able to discern changes to the objects themselves, whether it's a change in coloration, size or shape. This is not interesting because your peripheral vision is bad - when the objects are stationary it's easy to tell that they are changing - it's interesting because it's a property of human vision that apparently wasn't known yet.

    In fact, just try to focus on one of the dots in the videos. Even if you know it's going to move, you know it's going to keep changing color and the dot is in your center of view you still might fall to the illusion (not to mention that other dots nearby also seem to be unchanging even though they're right next to the one you're trying to follow).


    It's not about central vs. peripheral sight, it's about how motion and the perception of change interact.

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