Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Blindness to background: An inbuilt bias for visual objects

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Catherine O'Hanlon, Professor Jenny ReadORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2017.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Hanlon CG, Read JCA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Developmental Science

Year: 2017

Volume: 20

Issue: 5

Print publication date: 01/09/2017

Online publication date: 22/11/2016

Acceptance date: 04/07/2016

Date deposited: 15/08/2016

ISSN (print): 1363-755X

ISSN (electronic): 1467-7687

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/desc.12478


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name