Instinct Blindness

By Marc Resnick

I was reading Incognito by David Eagleman and he used the term “instinct blindness” to refer to the lack of attention and resulting lack of memory traces from tasks that have become automatic (or that started out that way – hence the term instinct).  I have used the similar term “inattention blindness” to refer to the similar phenomenon when you don’t notice things write in front of you when your attention is on something else.  I like the use of the term blindness because unlike the novice mental model that the human visual system are like a video camera, it shows how blind we really are.  These events literally never register in our attention or situation awareness and never establish a memory trace.  Unless something salient happens, it will stay that way.  Just as if you were blind.