Motion Induced Blindness demo by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.


This is a great illustration of what pilots were and are still taught about visually scanning outside the cockpit. They are taught to scan the horizon for a short distance, stop momentarily, then repeat the process.  It is the most effective technique to locate other aircraft.  As motorcyclists we don’t need to see things more than perhaps a few thousand feet away where pilots need to identify objects miles away.  However, the technique is basically the same; scan, then focus momentarily on an object that could be a threat then rescan and repeat the process. Don't fixate on one object for too long.

Below you see a rotating array of blue crosses and 3 yellow dots. Now fixate on the centre (watch the flashing green spot). Note that the yellow spots disappear once in a while: singly, in pairs or all three simultaneously. In reality, the 3 yellow spots are continuously present, honest!

You can use the slower/faster buttons to change speed. Disappearance persists down to surprisingly low speeds. [If there are no buttons on the right, please update your Flash player.]

You can use the larger/smaller buttons to change size. Disappearance persists up to surprisingly large sizes.

You can use the “back-col” button to change the background color. The yellow dots disappear into whatever colour the background has.

The ‘defaults’ button at the top restores the standard settings.

According to Michael Bach, "Steady fixation favours disappearance, blinks or gaze shifts induce reappearance. All in all reminiscent of the Troxler effect, but stronger and more resistant to residual eye movements."

This page provided by Prof. Michael Bach PhD, Ophthalmology, University of Freiburg, Germany, from his collection of Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena.

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Revised: January 04, 2012 .