PERIPHERAL VISION IS USED MORE THAN CENTRAL VISION
TO GET THE GIST OF WHAT YOU SEE
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You have two types of vision: central and peripheral. Central vision is what you use
To look at things directly and to see details. Peripheral vision encompasses the rest
Of the visual field—areas that are visible, but that you’re not looking at directly. Being
able to see things out of the corner of your eye is certainly useful, but new research
from Kansas State University shows that peripheral vision is more important in understanding
The world around us than most people realize. It seems that we get information
On what type of scene we’re looking at from our peripheral vision.
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Why blinking on a screen is so annoying
People can’t help but notice movement in their peripheral vision. For example, if you’re
reading text on a computer screen, and there’s some animation or something blinking
To concentrate on reading the text in front of you. This is peripheral vision at work! This
Pages. Even though we may find it annoying, it does get our attention.
Adam Larson and Lester Lock (2009) showed people photograph of common
Scenes, such as a kitchen or a living room. In some photographs the outside of
the image was obscured, and in others the central part of the image was obscured. The
images were shown for very short amounts of time, and were purposely shown with a
gray filter, so they were somewhat hard to see Then they asked the research participants to identify what they were looking at. Larson and Bosch Ky found that if the central part of the photo was missing, people could still identify what they were looking at. But when the peripheral part of the image was missing, then they couldn’t say whether the scene was a living room or a kitchen.
They tried obscuring different amounts of the photo. They concluded that central vision
is the most critical for specific object recognition, but peripheral vision is used for getting
the gist of a scene.
Peripheral vision kept our ancestors alive on the Savannah
The theory, from an evolutionary standpoint, is that early humans who were sharpening
in their peripheral vision survived to pass on their genes. Those with poor peripheral
Recent research confirms this idea. Dimitri Boyle (2009) placed pictures of fearful
took for the amygdala (the emotional part of the brain that responds to fearful images)
190 milliseconds for the amygdala to react.
But when objects were shown in peripheral
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People use peripheral vision when they look at a computer screen, and usually decide
What a page is about based on a quick glimpse of what is in their peripheral vision.
Although the middle of the screen is important for central vision, don’t ignore what is
in the viewers’ peripheral vision. Make sure the information in the periphery communicates
Clearly the purpose of the page and the site.
If you want users to concentrate on a certain part of the screen, don’t put animation or
Blinking elements in their peripheral vision.
their flint, or looking up at the clouds, and yet still noticed that a lion was coming at them
Vision didn’t survive to pass on genes.
objects in subjects’ peripheral vision or central vision. Then he measured how long it
to react. When the fearful object was shown in the central vision, it took between 140 to
vision, it only took 80 milliseconds for the amygdala to react.