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Publication Detail
Load Induced Blindness
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Macdonald JSP, Lavie N
  • Publisher:
    American Psychological Association
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    1078, 1091
  • Journal:
    Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Keywords:
    attention, perceptual load, distractors, awareness, inattentional blindness
Although the perceptual load theory of attention has stimulated a great deal of research, evidence for the role of perceptual load in determining perception has typically relied upon indirect measures that infer perception from distractor effects on RTs or neural activity (see Lavie, 2005 for a review). Here we varied the level of perceptual load in a letter-search task and assessed its effect on the conscious perception of a search-irrelevant shape stimulus appearing in the periphery, using a direct measure of awareness (present/absent reports). Detection sensitivity (d’) was consistently reduced with high, compared to low, perceptual load, but was unaffected by the level of working memory load. Since alternative accounts in terms of expectation, memory, response bias and goal-neglect due to the more strenuous high load task were ruled out, these experiments clearly demonstrate that high perceptual load determines conscious perception, impairing the ability to merely detect the presence of a stimulus: A phenomenon of “load induced blindness”.
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