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Research suggests that attention in dynamic
scenes is biased towards content that di"ers from
what was observed before .
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
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
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
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; www.wwtf.at) to Ulrich Ansorge, Otmar Scherzer, and Shelley Buchinger.
Manual response accuracy
same position di"erent position
same position di"erent position
Saccades to di"erent position
continuity cuts discontinuous cuts
20 viewers participated in an eye
(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
* ns * ns
* p < .05
 Itti, L., & Baldi, P. (2009). Bayesian surprise attracts human attention. Vision Research, 49, 1295-1306.
 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.
 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.
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
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.