An EEG study of detection without localisation in change blindness

Catriona L. Scrivener, Asad Malik, Jade Marsh, Michael Lindner, Etienne B. Roesch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies of change blindness have suggested a distinction between detection and localisation of changes in a visual scene. Using a simple paradigm with an array of coloured squares, the present study aimed to further investigate differences in event-related potentials (ERPs) between trials in which participants could detect the presence of a colour change but not identify the location of the change (sense trials), versus those where participants could both detect and localise the change (localise trials). Individual differences in performance were controlled for by adjusting the difficulty of the task in real time. Behaviourally, reaction times for sense, blind, and false alarm trials were distinguishable when comparing across levels of participant certainty. In the EEG data, we found no significant differences in the visual awareness negativity ERP, contrary to previous findings. In the N2pc range, both awareness conditions (localise and sense) were significantly different to trials with no change detection (blind trials), suggesting that this ERP is not dependent on explicit awareness. Within the late positivity range, all conditions were significantly different. These results suggest that changes can be ‘sensed’ without knowledge of the location of the changing object, and that participant certainty scores can provide valuable information about the perception of changes in change blindness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2535–2547
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Early online date23 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • change blindness
  • sensing
  • event-related potentials
  • awareness


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