Blindness to background: An inbuilt bias for visual objects

Catherine O'Hanlon, Jenny Read

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Sixty-eight 2- to 12-year-olds and 30 adults were shown colorful displays on a touchscreen monitor and trained to point to the location of a named color. Participants located targets near-perfectly when presented with four abutting colored patches. When presented with three colored patches on a colored background, toddlers failed to locate targets in the background. Eye tracking demonstrated that the effect was partially mediated by a tendency not to fixate the background. However, the effect was abolished when the targets were named as nouns, whilst the change to nouns had little impact on eye movement patterns. Our results imply a powerful, inbuilt tendency to attend to objects, which may slow the development of color concepts and acquisition of color words.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12478
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number5
Early online date22 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017


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