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Impact Factor:0.906
Source:2014 Journal Citation Reports® (Thomson Reuters, 2015)

Is the Richness of Our Visual World an Illusion? Transsaccadic Memory for Complex Scenes

  1. Susan J Blackmore
    1. School of Psychology, University of the West of England, St Matthias College, Bristol BS16 2JP, UK
  1. Gavin Brelstaff
  2. Kay Nelson
  3. Tom Trościanko
  1. Perceptual Systems Research Centre, Department of Psychology, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Rd, Bristol BS8 1TN, UK


Our construction of a stable visual world, despite the presence of saccades, is discussed. A computer-graphics method was used to explore transsaccadic memory for complex images. Images of real-life scenes were presented under four conditions: they stayed still or moved in an unpredictable direction (forcing an eye movement), while simultaneously changing or staying the same. Changes were the appearance, disappearance, or rotation of an object in the scene. Subjects detected the changes easily when the image did not move but when it moved their performance fell to chance. A grey-out period was introduced to mimic that which occurs during a saccade. This also reduced performance but not to chance levels.

These results reveal the poverty of transsaccadic memory for real-life complex scenes. They are discussed with respect to Dennett's view that much less information is available in vision than our subjective impression leads us to believe. Our stable visual world may be constructed out of a brief retinal image and a very sketchy, higher-level representation along with a pop-out mechanism to redirect attention. The richness of our visual world is, to this extent, an illusion.

  • Received October 16, 1993.
  • Revision received February 7, 1995.
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