Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Change Blindness

Change blindness is a phenomenon related to perception. Change blindness occurs when a visual change (e.g. a change in an image) occurs in plain sight of a viewer, but the viewer does not notice the change. For instance, in one experiment (O'Regan et al., 2000), subjects inspect an image of a Paris street scene. During this inspection, the color of a car in the foreground of the image changes, but subjects do not notice!

Change blindness has been used to argue against the traditional representational view of perception, and for the enactive view of perception. According to the enactive view, we do not create detailed representations of the world. Instead, perception is a sensorimotor skill, and is used to access information in the world when it is needed. Change blindness is used as evidence to support the view that representations of the world are not constructed (Noë, 2004, 2009).


  1. Noë, A. (2004). Action In Perception. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  2. Noë, A. (2009). Out of Our Heads. New York: Hill and Wang..
  3. O'Regan, J.K., Deubel, H., Clark, J.J., & Rensink, R.A. Picture changes during blinks: Looking without seeing and seeing without looking. Visual Cognition, 7, 191-212.

(Added November 2009)