Lucy - Shopping for Porridge (with simultanagnostic vision)

We have created a character called Lucy, to explain milder forms of simultanagnostic vision, and how people can have it without knowing it.

Lucy is an independent, well educated professional young lady.

Lucy is going to her local supermarket to buy her favourite porridge oats.

Lucy wants to buy her favourite porridge oats.Lucy wants to buy her favourite porridge oats.

Here is the breakfast cereal aisle:

Using an oval to broadly represent the visual field, let's follow Lucy, who will explain what she is seeing to us...

I always go to the supermarket either very early in the morning or late at night, when it is nice and quiet. Aisle 11, this is where the breakfast cereals are, great...ok, now where are they?

Coco-pops, nope

corn flakes - nope

muesli - nope

nope - I can't find them, I'm going to have to ask someone

Grrrrrr as usual they were right under my nose - quite literally, how didn't I see them? I always feel like a bit of an idiot when I have to ask, because so often what I am looking for is right in front of me.

CVI Scotland Comments:

Lucy has no awareness of her challenges with visual search. She is intelligent, but her search is completely random - she is not compensating, for example by following clues, like oats may be close to muesli but not near the children's cereals, because she does not know she has anything to compensate for.

Lucy likely shops in the same supermarket and needs the memory of where things are to help her, like memorising the aisle numbers and locations.

If the supermarket was busy, this would be much more difficult for Lucy. With an empty store, she can rely upon her random search and hopefully find what she wants, but not always. With people and shopping trolleys moving around her, this would be much more difficult.

Did you spot the porridge oats when Lucy missed them (below)?

They were on the bottom shelf to the left. To see them clearly Lucy would have had to be on her knees.

If Lucy also had a lower visual field impairment, which commonly accompanies simultanagnostic vision, even when mild, unless sitting on the floor, they would have been absent from Lucy's visual field.

With a lower visual field impairment,  the bottom shelf isn't there anymore. With a lower visual field impairment, the bottom shelf isn't there anymore.

Lucy has made many accommodations in her life, to manage the challenges created by having mild simultanagnostic vision, she just thinks there are some things other people seem to find easy, that she finds difficult, she has no idea she has a visual impairment.

We explain more about this type of random search due to simultanagnostic vision, including diagrams (essentially explaining how Lucy was looking for her porridge) from CVI expert Professor Josef Zihl, in our section Reduced Visual Search.

These challenges of visual search are also clearly shown in the virtual simulation tests below (from the Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity), comparing someone with CVI to someone without CVI. The translucent light brown circle tracks the participants eye movements as they try to find the toy. This (the participant with CVI) is how Lucy was trying to find her porridge oats.

Laboratory for Visual NeuroplasticityVideo Link:


Simulation of simultanagnosia is difficult, because we are trying to simulate something that is often not conscious, so how can we know what it is actually like?

We can't, for certain, but we have worked together with adults who have come to gain awareness of their simultanagnosia, so as to obtain the closest simulation that we can for the present.

The blurring in the periphery of the images is meant to represent degrees of reduced visual attention for anything not being directly looked at, and should not be confused with reduced visual acuity.


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