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  • Research suggests that attention in dynamic

    scenes is biased towards content that di"ers from

    what was observed before [1].

    While this may be prevalent in many

    situations, we propose that a preference for

    repeated information is as well observable.

    Professional footage contains cinematic cuts, with

    either continuity editing or discontinuous editing.

    Continuity cuts repeat major elements from a

    pre-cut scene in a post-cut scene. Although such

    cuts constitute abrupt changes, they are often not

    realized by viewers. In contrast, viewers are more

    frequently aware of discontinuous cuts [2, 3].

    We hypothesize that after cuts attention is

    captured by visual features repeated from the

    pre-cut scene.



    Continuity had an e"ect on manual reaction

    times (RTs) and manual response accuracy.

    When the movies continued at the same posi-

    tion, discontinuous cuts were reliably detected.

    With continuity, the fraction of missed cuts

    nearly doubled. When movies continued at the

    di"erent position, performance did not di"er

    between the two types of cuts.

    However, saccadic reaction time (i.e., relocating

    gaze to the di"erent position of the task-

    relevant movie after the cut) was reduced by

    26 ms with continuity cuts as compared to

    discontinuous cuts.

    Our results demonstrate that the classical

    technique of continuity editing achieves the

    desired result of perceptual continuity and a

    surprisingly large number of cuts is missed. This

    e"ect is however not additive with a change of

    spatial location.

    We found di"erences in saccadic latency between

    continuity cuts and discontinuous cuts, which

    indicate that information from the periphery

    contributes to the decision process whether the

    movies switched positions or not.

    We propose that re-orientation of attention and

    gaze after abrupt scene changes, like with

    cinematic cuts, is primed by repeating visual

    content from the pre-cut scene.



    We thank Melanie Szoladatics for her assistance with movie editing and data collection.

    This work was supported by project number CS11-009 of the WWTF (Wiener Wissenschafts- und

    Technologiefonds; to Ulrich Ansorge, Otmar Scherzer, and Shelley Buchinger.

    Manual response accuracy

    same position di"erent position

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    Manual RTs

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    continuity cuts

    discontinuous cuts

    Saccades to di"erent position

    continuity cuts discontinuous cuts

    M e

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    20 viewers participated in an eye

    tracking study.

    (EyeLink 1000 Desktop Mount,

    monocular recording at 1000 Hz)


    We edited sports movies using

    either continuity cuts,

    or discontinuous cuts

    (324 cuts in total). Example cuts

    are depicted in Figure 1.

    Procedure and task

    In each of 20 blocks, two

    di"erent sports movies were

    shown silently side by side on a

    computer screen (see ‘example

    block’ in Figure 2).

    Viewers were instructed to watch

    one of the movies while

    ignoring the other and keep their

    eyes on the movie they were


    Crucially, the movies switched

    positions at some of the cuts, so

    that viewers had to saccade to

    the new position.

    Viewers reported by button

    presses whether the task-relevant

    movie continued at the same or

    at the di"erent position.


    cut / di"erent position

    task-relevant movie starts right

    cut / same position

    Example block

    * ns * ns


    * p < .05


    [1] Itti, L., & Baldi, P. (2009). Bayesian surprise attracts human attention. Vision Research, 49, 1295-1306.

    [2] Smith, T.J. and Henderson, J.M. (2008). Edit Blindness: The relationship between attention and global

    change blindness in dynamic scenes. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 2(2):6, 1-17.

    [3] Smith, T. J., Levin, D. T. & Cutting, J. (2012) A Window on Reality: Perceiving Edited Moving Images. Current

    Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 101-106.


    [email protected]

    Priming of visual attention by continuity editing in dynamic visual scenes Ulrich Ansorge1,2, Christian Valuch1 & Peter König2

    1 Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna 2 Department of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrück

    viewer watches

    task-relevant movie

    task-relevant movie continues

    at same or di"erent position

    Figure 1. Example continuity cuts and discontinuous cuts.


    In the task-relevant movie each cut either followed continuity

    editing rules or not, and occurred at the same time as a cut in

    the irrelevant movie.

    Figure 2. Example block (each block lasted until the end of the movies).

    Figure 3. Results.