How much do we really notice?

by ryan

Changing Image ExhibitDuring training today, we looked at this exhibit but didn’t really get to finish discussing the phenomenon. This exhibit demonstrates something called change blindness, where the brain usually doesn’t notice changes in a picture when a small pause interrupts the visual field. The scene on the ExplOratorium exhibit cycles through photographs of a street, with one change occurring after a blink in the entire image. It’s super hard to find the difference even if it’s something super obvious seeming like the car changing color or a tree disappearing.

There are some cool links online demonstrating how the principle works. See if you can notice what changes in the picture of the lady in a kayak. If you like that one, here are ten more! Luigi showed me this really awesome youtube video of a magic trick that uses the same effect. Watch the whole thing. It’s amazing! Plus the British accents seem to add a lot.

The screen can be a nice orientation exhibit to bring kids to first thing in the morning. It’s great to have groups stop and think about really looking for details and noticing the little things before running free in the museum.

In a psychology class I took in college, our professor told us about an experiement on change blindness that really freaked me out. Apparently, one person would ask a stranger on the street for directions. While they were talking, an accomplice would walk in-between the two carrying a large painting. The two experimenters would switch places and the direction giver wouldn’t notices that they were talking to a new person. It shows that we really dont observe everything about our surroundings. Let’s try this outside during orientations. Do you think the kids would notice if Andre and May switched halfway between giving the rules?

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