Current junior and AP Research + Catalyst student, Anisha Nilakantan, has spent the last year working on her research paper about "The Gorilla in the Room:
Evaluating the Relationship between Visual Awareness and Visual Attention in Inattentional Blindness."

Her abstract is as follows (written by Anisha herself): Often regarded as a potential cross-section between visual awareness and visual attention, inattentional blindness (IB) is the phenomenon wherein humans fail to perceive unexpected visual stimuli within their field of vision. Withal the current research in IB, a discord prevails regarding the specific nature of the relationship between visual awareness and visual attention. Amidst ambiguous definitions and blurred distinctions, the lack of comprehension encompassing the aforementioned fundamental relationship results in the current understanding of IB being largely unsubstantiated. This quantitative experimental method addresses the relationship between visual awareness and attention by applying an established determinant of visual awareness (orientation) to an inattentional blindness test. Adapting Simons and Chabris’ viral selective attention test, I asked 121 middle schoolers to watch one of three versions of a video. Each version - showing a dynamic scene of players in black and white passing a basketball - represented a variation of orientation: straight-on (control), oblique (angle), and cardinal (upside-down). After reporting the number of catches completed by the players in white, students were asked whether or not they saw 1) a gorilla walk through the scene, and/or 2) a player leave the game. By evaluating 99 valid data points, three 2-sample z-tests were run: between control and oblique, control and cardinal, and oblique and cardinal. Eliciting p-values of 0.8575, 0.9369, and 0.8031 respectively, changing the orientation of the dynamic scene had no significant impact on IB. Thus, I discuss that with regards to orientation, there is no relationship between visual awareness and attention. Implications of these results suggest that awareness is processed at a lower order, rendering attention more dominant in determining what humans perceive during IB. Theorising the insignificance of visual awareness in realistic scenarios, this study calls for reevaluation of the network between awareness and attention in IB.

Anisha will be presenting about her project on Wed 25 April from 8:35am - 9:05am in the High School Center of Innovation. If the subject of Visual Awareness and Visual Attention in Inattentional Blindness interests you, come check out her project!

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