Now or never: Noticing occurs early in sustained inattentional blindness

Katherine Wood, Daniel J. Simons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People can show sustained inattentional blindness for unexpected objects visible for seconds or even minutes. Would such objects eventually be noticed given enough time, with the likelihood of noticing accumulating while the unexpected object is visible? Or, is there a narrow window around onset or offset when an object is most likely to be detected, with the chances of noticing dropping outside of that window? Across three experiments (total n's = 283, 756, 488) exploring the temporal dynamics of noticing in sustained inattentional blindness, subjects who noticed the unexpected object did so soon after it onset. Doubling or even tripling the time when the unexpected object was visible barely affected the likelihood of noticing it and had no impact on how accurately subjects reported its features. When people notice an unexpected object in these sustained inattentional blindness tasks, they do so soon after the unexpected object onsets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number191333
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Inattentional blindness
  • Time course of attention
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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