I went to the Usability Conference and I learned and saw some fun things.
I learned about inattentional blindness. That's when you can't see what's clearly there because you're focused on another task.
Check out this test:
[I failed it.]
I also learned about change blindness. That's when you can't see what's clearly changed because you're focused on a task.
This video is unbelievable.
One theory behind change blindness is your mind can't perceive a change if the change hasn't had time to be stored--if it hasn't made it from short term to working memory--or if it isn't significant enough.
When I told my friends about this video, my friend Martin offered that maybe your brain just picks and chooses to remember what it needs. Like why should your brain remember if the person is a tall, white, bald dude or a teeny tiny Asian lady--as long as the mouth hole in front of you is spitting out your directions?
They didn't offer this up as a theory at the Usability conference. But I looked it up and CogSci people are starting to think that this might indeed be what's happening. Fun!