Above attention’s speed limit, blindness for spatial relationships

We discovered that when an array of colored discs was spun so fast that attention could no longer keep up with it, people could no longer perceive which colors were adjacent.

Together with an additional attentional cueing experiment, this phenomenon suggests that a shift of attention is required to mentally link adjacent elements and apprehend their spatial relationship.

The experiments are described in:
Holcombe, A., Linares, D., & Vaziri-Pashkam, M. (2011). Perceiving Spatial Relations via Attentional Tracking and Shifting Current Biology DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.05.031

The movie shows the main stimulus, but unfortunately it can’t be displayed fast enough on a webpage for you to lose the ability to apprehend the spatial relationships among the colors.

I have written a gentle introduction to perceptual speed limits such as this one.

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