Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Now you see it, now you don’t: ’Change blindness’ isn’t magic

24.08.2005


A team of scientists at UCL (University College London) has discovered why we often miss major changes in our surroundings - such as a traffic light turning green when we’re listening to the radio. Our inability to notice large changes in a visual scene is a phenomenon often exploited by magicians - but only now can scientists put their finger on the exact part of the brain that is so often deceived.



The UCL team shows, in a research paper published in the September issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex (which goes online on 24th August) that the part of the brain called the parietal cortex, the area responsible for concentration, is also critical to our ability to detect changes. The exact critical spot lies just a few centimetres above and behind the right ear – the area many people scratch when concentrating.

Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), the team switched off the parietal cortex part of the brain temporarily by applying magnetic stimulation to the head via a magnetic coil which produces small electrical currents to the brain. Without help from this region of the brain, subjects failed to notice even major visual changes– in this case a change of a person’s face.


In previous experiments using brain scanning (functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI), the team led by Professor Nilli Lavie at the UCL Department of Psychology, discovered that detection of visual changes was not only correlated with activity in conventional visual areas of the brain but also with activity in the parietal cortex.

But, until this experiment, when the team actually switched off the parietal cortex using TMS, they didn’t know that noticing change critically depends on activity in the parietal cortex. When that region of the brain was effectively switched off, ’change blindness’ (a failure to notice large changes in a visual scene) occurred.

Professor Lavie said: "Because the parietal lobe is not part of the visual cortex it was at first surprising to find that activity in the parietal lobe is critical for visual awareness. We have always known that the parietal cortex was responsible for concentrating. But it was a surprise to find out it is also important for detecting visual changes in a scene. The finding that this region of the brain has both these functions, concentration and visual awareness, explains why we can be so easily deceived by, say, a magicians’ trick. When we’re concentrating so hard on something that our processing capacity is at its limits, the parietal cortex is not available to pay attention to new things and even dramatic changes can go unnoticed. If you’re concentrating on what the magician’s left hand is doing, you won’t notice what the right hand is doing."

Alex Brew | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit
21.08.2017 | Hokkaido University

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>