Change blindness

Daniel J. Simons, Daniel T. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although at any instant we experience a rich, detailed visual world, we do not use such visual details to form a stable representation across views. Over the past five years, researchers have focused increasingly on 'change blindness' (the inability to detect changes to an object or scene) as a means to examine the nature of our representations. Experiments using a diverse range of methods and displays have produced strikingly similar results: unless a change to a visual scene produces a localizable change or transient at a specific position on the retina, generally, people will not detect it. We review theory and research motivating work on change blindness and discuss recent evidence that people are blind to changes occurring in photographs, in motion pictures and even in real-world interactions. These findings suggest that relatively little visual information is preserved from one view to the next, and question a fundamental assumption that has underlain perception research for centuries: namely, that we need to store a detailed visual representation in the mind/brain from one view to the next.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-267
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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