Published on May 31, 2010 Reviewed on May 1, 2020   44 min

Other Talks in the Category: Neuroscience

Hello my name is Ron Rensink of the University of British Columbia. And what I'd like to do today is talk to you about some of my work in the area of visual attention.
I'll begin by considering a very simple question, how do we see scenes? It turns out that this is a little bit more complex than you might think, every scene that we see has got new people, new places, new things.
In fact even familiar scenes tend to change, things move around, the weather can change, all kinds of things can happen. Basically every scene we see is new in some way and the question then is, how do we manage to cope with this?
A common belief is that we see scenes by somehow paying attention, if we pay enough attention we can see everything around us.
The question is: how is this done? Let's consider a simple scene.
In the old days (meaning a few decades ago) people thought that you built up an internal picture via a visual buffer, that what you would do is move your eyes around and each glance would build up some detailed information, you moved around and eventually you'd build up a complete picture, like that.
That's a nice idea, but then consider this little flickering sequence, what you see is an original image followed by a brief blank, followed by the image changed in some way. Something could have been moved, or appear, or change color, and what we find is that under these kinds of conditions people typically find it very difficult to see these changes. Have you seen it yet? If you haven't, it's the engine near the center of the picture