The role of attentional breadth in perceptual change detection

Heather L. Pringle, David E. Irwin, Arthur F. Kramer, Paul Atchley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has shown that changes to scenes are often surprisingly hard to detect. The research reported here investigated the relationship between individual differences in attention and change detection. We did this by assessing participants' breadth of attention in a functional field of view task (FFOV) and relating this measure to the speed with which individuals detected changes in scenes. We also examined how the salience, meaningfulness, and eccentricity of the scene changes affected perceptual change performance. In order to broaden the range of individual differences in attentional breadth, both young and old adults participated in the study. A strong negative relationship was obtained between attentional breadth and the latency with which perceptual changes were detected; observers with broader attentional windows detected changes faster. Salience and eccentricity had large effects on change detection, but meaning aided the performance of young adults only and only when changes also had low salience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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