Visual awareness of objects and their colour

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2011 Oct;73(7):2026-43. doi: 10.3758/s13414-011-0161-3.


At any given moment, our awareness of what we 'see' before us seems to be rather limited. If, for instance, a display containing multiple objects is shown (red or green disks), when one object is suddenly covered at random, observers are often little better than chance in reporting about its colour (Wolfe, Reinecke, & Brawn, Visual Cognition, 14, 749-780, 2006). We tested whether, when object attributes (such as colour) are unknown, observers still retain any knowledge of the presence of that object at a display location. Experiments 1-3 involved a task requiring two-alternative (yes/no) responses about the presence or absence of a colour-defined object at a probed location. On this task, if participants knew about the presence of an object at a location, responses indicated that they also knew about its colour. A fourth experiment presented the same displays but required a three-alternative response. This task did result in a data pattern consistent with participants' knowing more about the locations of objects within a display than about their individual colours. However, this location advantage, while highly significant, was rather small in magnitude. Results are compared with those of Huang (Journal of Vision, 10(10, Art. 24), 1-17, 2010), who also reported an advantage for object locations, but under quite different task conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Awareness*
  • Color Perception*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Field Dependence-Independence
  • Humans
  • Leukopenia
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Middle Aged
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Perceptual Masking*
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency
  • Size Perception
  • Young Adult

Supplementary concepts

  • Reticular dysgenesis