The study, from Daniel Simons, a professor of psychology and an affiliate of the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, appears this month as the inaugural paper in the new open access journal i-Perception.
The study used a new video based on one used in a now-famous experiment conducted in the late 1990s by Simons and his collaborator, Christopher Chabris, now a psychology professor at Union College in New York. In the original video, two groups of people – some dressed in white, some in black – are passing basketballs back and forth. The study subjects were asked to count the passes among those dressed in white while ignoring the passes of those in black. (To test your own skill at this task, stop reading and click here.
Simons and Chabris found that many of those who viewed the video failed to notice when a person in a gorilla suit walked into the game, faced the camera, pounded on its chest and then sauntered out of view. The gorilla was on screen for nearly nine seconds, yet half of those who watched the video didn’t see it.
This finding was a particularly dramatic example of “inattentional blindness,” the failure to see something obvious when focusing attention on something else.
The video is now so well known that many people know to look for a gorilla whenever they are asked to count basketball passes. Simons decided to use its notoriety to his advantage. He created a similar video, again with teams of white- and black-clothed players, the same rules and a chest-thumping gorilla. (Before reading further, try the task for yourself.
Simons wanted to see if those who knew about the gorilla before viewing the video would be more or less likely to notice other unexpected events in the same video.
“You can make two competing predictions,” Simons said. “Knowing about the invisible gorilla might increase your chances of noticing other unexpected events because you know that the task tests whether people spot unexpected events. You might look for other events because you know that the experimenter is up to something.” Alternatively, “knowing about the gorilla might lead viewers to look for gorillas exclusively, and when they find one, they might fail to notice anything else out of the ordinary.”
As in the earlier experiment, of those who had never seen or heard about the gorilla video, about half missed the gorilla in the new video. Those who knew about the original gorilla video all spotted the gorilla in this experiment. However, knowing about the gorilla beforehand did not improve the detection of other unexpected events. Only 17 percent of those who were familiar with the original gorilla video noticed one or both of the other unexpected events, while 29 percent of those who were unfamiliar with the original gorilla video spotted one of the other events.
This difference between the “familiar” and “unfamiliar” viewers of the video is not statistically significant, Simons said, but the study does demonstrate that being primed to the possibility of unexpected events does not enhance one’s ability to notice other unexpected events.
“The main finding is that knowing that unexpected events might occur doesn’t prevent you from missing unexpected events,” Simons said. “People who are familiar with the purpose and conclusions of the original study – that people can miss obvious events when focused on something else – still miss other obvious events in exactly that same context. Even when they know that the experimenter is going to fool them, they can miss something that’s obvious, something that they could spot perfectly well if they knew it was there.”
The video itself, called “The Monkey Business Illusion,” was a finalist in the Neural Correlate Society’s Best Illusion of the Year contest in May, where Simons donned a gorilla suit and presented the new video himself. (You can view his presentation.) Most of the vision scientists in the audience knew about the original gorilla video, and yet most still missed one or both of the other unexpected events in the video.
Simons is the co-author, with Chabris, of “The Invisible Gorilla, And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us,” a new book that focuses on common – and yet false – intuitions about how our minds work that often are wrong. Visit www.theinvisiblegorilla.com for more information about the book and other videos demonstrating the limits of visual awareness.
Diana Yates | University of Illinois
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy