Distracted by distractors: Eye movements in a dynamic inattentional blindness task

Consciousness and Cognition 21 (1):170-176 (2012)
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Abstract

Inattentional Blindness occurs when observers engaged in resource-consuming tasks fail to see unexpected stimuli that appear in their visual field. Eye movements were recorded in a dynamic IB task where participants tracked targets amongst distractors. During the task, an unexpected stimulus crossed the screen for several seconds. Individuals who failed to report the unexpected stimulus were deemed to be IB. Being IB was associated with making more fixations and longer gaze times on distractor stimuli, being less likely to fixate the unexpected stimulus, and having lower working memory capacity than those who were not IB. Noticing the unexpected stimulus was not contingent upon fixating it, suggesting that some individuals processed the unexpected stimulus via covert attention. The findings support earlier research on working memory and IB. In addition, IBs were less efficient attentional allocators than those who were not IB, as reflected in their eye tracking of irrelevant distractors

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