Feature-based inattentional blindness: loss of awareness to featural information in fully attended objects

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2014 Nov;76(8):2229-39. doi: 10.3758/s13414-014-0712-5.


In two experiments, we investigated the impact of feature-based attention on observers' awareness of object appearance. Participants were shown a sequence of two displays, each containing eight objects (rectangles), and were asked to detect changes in the orientation of a cued rectangle. A set of baseline trials preceded probe trials in which half of the rectangles in each display were unexpectedly distorted by 70 %. Participants in both Experiment 1 (100-ms display duration) and Experiment 2 (100- and 400-ms display durations) were unaware of these modifications in the task-irrelevant feature (texture), even when they were asked to select the viewed object in a forced choice procedure. A control experiment showed that participants could identify the physical distortion when they were made aware of its presence. The results demonstrate that feature-based attention moderates the appearance of objects, even when those objects are fully expected and fully attended, implying a distinct form of unawareness that we term feature-based inattentional blindness.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult