Date of this Version
Published in Journal of Neurophysiology 119 (2018), pp 1629–1635.
Neuroimaging-based investigations of change blindness, a phenomenon in which seemingly obvious changes in visual scenes fail to be detected, have significantly advanced our understanding of visual awareness. The vast majority of prior investigations, however, utilize paradigms involving visual disruptions (e.g., intervening blank screens, saccadic movements, “mudsplashes”), making it difficult to isolate neural responses toward visual changes cleanly. To address this issue in this present study, high-density EEG data (256 channel) were collected from 25 participants using a paradigm in which visual changes were progressively introduced into detailed real-world scenes without the use of visual disruption. Oscillatory activity associated with undetected changes was contrasted with activity linked to their absence using standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA). Although an insufficient number of detections were present to allow for analysis of actual change detection, increased beta-2 activity in the right inferior parietal lobule (rIPL), a region repeatedly associated with change blindness in disruption paradigms, followed by increased theta activity in the right superior temporal gyrus (rSTG) was noted in undetected visual change responses relative to the absence of change. We propose the rIPL beta-2 activity to be associated with orienting attention toward visual changes, with the subsequent rise in rSTG theta activity being potentially linked with updating preconscious perceptual memory representations. This study represents the first neuroimaging- based investigation of gradual change blindness, a visual phenomenon that has significant potential to shed light on the processes underlying visual detection and conscious perception. The use of gradual change materials is reflective of real-world visual phenomena and allows for cleaner isolation of signals associated with the neural registration of change relative to the use of abrupt change transients.