When the Mind Blinks:
to the Perception of
Sequential Visual Images
Jane E. Raymond
Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology,
University of Wales-Bangor
The primary purpose of this chapter is to bring recent knowledge about human visual perception garnered from research in neuroscience and experimental psychology to the attention of people working in advertising and visual persuasion. In the last decade, scientists have made significant advances in understanding the limitations the brain imposes on perceptual awareness and the processing of visual images by people in busy dynamic environments. This work suggest that fastpaced, complex visual messages frequently used in modern advertising may exceed the cognitive capacity of most people. In this chapter, I briefly review a general model of how visual information, especially briefly presented complex information, may be perceptually processed and how it reaches our awareness and memory. I also describe recent research using different but related procedures that asks questions about the special cognitive and perceptual loads produced when different complex images are presented rapidly and successively.
I begin with a short reminder that the brain performs an extraordinarily difficult set of tasks and that it is, of course, a filter between the real world and the one that we perceive to exist. I then describe how and why humans have to be so selective about what they attend and how this is particularly important when images change with time. Lastly I describe how recent laboratory-based research provides insights into why some persuasive visual communications may fail to persuade.