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Scientists seem to have come closer in understanding change blindness. The condition is known to be a failure among people in detecting the obvious changes that occur around them. With the help of a computer-based model researchers now appear to have analyzed what type of change is noticed by people.

For a series of pictures participants were asked to spot the differences between pre-change and post-change versions. These pictures had elements added, removed or the color was changed. Location of the change was based on attention grabbing properties.

Author Peter McOwan, professor at Queen Mary, University of London shares that “This is one of the first applications of computer intelligence to help study human visual intelligence. The biologically inspired mathematics we have developed and tested can have future uses in letting computer vision systems such as robots detect interesting elements in their visual environment.”

Previously experts studied change blindness by manual manipulation of pictures and undertook decisions about what and where the changes had to be done. This new computer model seemingly cancelled any human bias. An algorithm was developed at Queen Mary’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science that enabled the computer to make a decision on how to change images that the participants were asked to view.

Experiments that were conducted revealed that change blindness can be inferred to using this model. It was also observed that addition or removal of an object was detected more easily as compared to the changes in color. This surprised the scientists as they felt that color change would be easier to spot as it plays an important role in our daily life.

“We live in a world in which we are immersed in visual information,” explained Verma. “The result is a huge cognitive burden which may hinder our ability to complete a given task. This study is an important step toward understanding how visual information is processed and how we can go about optimizing the presentation of visual displays.”

Authors suggest that this computer-based method will help in designing displays that are essential for day-to-day activities. These include road signs, emergency services, security and surveillance. This may help draw attention to the changes implied on the displays that require immediate attention.

These findings were presented in a Journal of Vision article.