Dr Kenneth Scott-Brown

Senior Lecturer

School School of Social and Health Sciences

Department Division of Psychology

Contact info

+44 (0)1382 30 8590


I’m best known in Psychology for the idea of ‘Comparison Blindness’.

My work – which is interdisciplinary in nature - tackles the problem of change blindness related to computer interfaces and explores the use of animation techniques to address this.  I have applied these research techniques to the area of CCTV Surveillance.

I’m also the creator and curator of the Abertay Challenge Student Led Design Consultancy Scheme which allows companies, the public sector and the third sector to sponsor a team of students to work on a specific design challenge for interactive screen media, digital games or public engagement.

My interdisciplinary research portfolio and its focus on public engagement in science has been recognised at the national level through my induction into the Scottish Crucible - a research and development programme for Scotland’s research leaders of the future. 

Before joining the University of Abertay, I held Post-Doctoral positions at the University of Nottingham, St Andrews and Glasgow Caledonian University.

I hold a PhD and MA (Hons) from the University of St Andrews.

I have teaching responsibilities for Undergraduate and Masters Level Perception and Cognitive Psychology as well as Research Methods. I also supervise postrgaduate research students, you can see some of their publications in my list below.

My public engagement work includes collaboration with Sensation at the Dundee Science Centre, based around change blindness research. Follow the link to the Visual Psychology Lab for online demos.


I am best known in Psychology for the idea of ‘Comparison Blindness’. Harry Orbach introduced me to Change Blindness, and while working in his lab I suggested that the problem of surprising difficulties in perception that became known as change blindness could be accounted for by the notion of a difficulty in the brain making explicit comparisons, rather than due to explanations of sparse coding of objects.

During my time at Abertay, I have sought to develop applications for my findings in Change Blindness. These have been most notably achieved in the domain of Policing, where I have conducted Knowledge Exchange work with Surveillance Operators in the Police, and have a collaboration with the Active Vision Laboratory at Dundee University assessing the oculomotor constraints on effective use of complex, multi-element visual displays.

Knowledge Transfer and Applications

More recently, I have been lucky enough to pursue this Change Blindness strand, along with my previous experience in the perception of motion at St Andrews University at Abertay, through my close collaboration with colleagues as the Institute for Arts Media and Computer Games. In a series of projects we are tackling the problems of change blindness that occur in computer interfaces by using animation techniques to effectively guide user attention in a complex visual array to the desired area. We argue that a combination of pictorial and animation cues is the best method to achieve this, rather than to rely on symbolic cues such as written instructions.

Research Degree Opportunities

I am keen to supervise students in any of these or related areas, and we offer the following research degrees: one-year MSc by Research, two-year MPhil or three-year PhD.  For more information please email   k.scott-brown @ abertay.ac.uk  (take out the spaces) or telephone +44(0)1382 308590.

Perception Lab People 

Lucinda McArdle (Mphil)


Santiago Gil Martinez (Phd) 

Neil Kirk (MSc)

Catherine Bain (MBRes)

(Whitespace Funded Studentships)

Sharon Ovenstone (Nee Pearson) (Mphil)

Robin Sloan PhD

Mark Shovman PhD

Previous Visiting Academics:

Michael Edward Edgerton

Leverhulme Composer in Residence (2006/7), University of Abertay Dundee.

Winner of the Kompositionspreis der Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart 2007!!!


Link to residency page and playable sample files: http://www.abertay.ac.uk/About/Residency.cfm

Kirk, N. W., Kempe, V., Scott-Brown, K. C., Philipp, A. & Declerck, M. ( 2017 in press)  Can monolinguals be like bilinguals? Evidence from dialect switching Cognition. 170, p. 164-178

See the timeline episode from BBC2 on iPlayer; the Article on BBC News; See the viral meme on facebook 1.5+Million Views

Stainer, M. J., Scott–Brown, K. C., & Tatler, B. W. (2017). On the Factors Causing Processing Difficulty of Multiple-Scene Displays. i-Perception, 8(2), 2041669516689572.

Carrillo, A. L., Martinez, S., Falgueras, J., & Scott-Brown, K. C. (2017). A reflective characterisation of occasional user. Computers in Human Behavior, 70, 74–89. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.027  Limited Free Download: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1UKi32f~UVz8aE

Egan, J., Sharman, R. J., Scott-Brown, K. C. and Lovell, P.G. (2016) Edge enhancement improves disruptive camouflage by emphasising false edges and creating pictorial relief. Scientific Reports. 6, 38274 http://www.nature.com/articles/srep38274   … #Camouflage #Abertay

Martinez, S., Isaacs, J. Fernandez-Gutierrez, F., Gilmour, D., & Scott-Brown, K. C. (2016). Building bridges between user and designer: co-creation, immersion and perspective taking. In: Advances in Design for Inclusion: Proceedings of the AHFE 2016 International Conference on Design for Inclusion, July 27-31, 2016, Florida, USA. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, pp.117-129. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-41962-6_11   http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-319-41962-6_11

Shovman, M., Szymkowiak, A. Bown, J. & Scott-Brown, K. C. (2015) Twist and Learn:Interface Learning in 3DOF Exploration of 3D Scatterplots. CHI 2015 ID No: pn433 http://chi2015.acm.org/program/full_schedule/   

Fernandez-Gutierrez, F., Martinez, S., Rube, M. A., Cox B. F., Fatahi, M., Scott-Brown, K. C., Houston, J. G., McLeod, H., White, R. D., French, K., Gueorguieva, M., Immel, E., Melzer, A. (2015) Comparative ergonomic workflow and user experience analysis of MRI versus fluoroscopy guided vascular interventions: an iliac angioplasty exemplar case study. International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery. Oct;10(10):1639-50. doi: 10.1007/s11548-015-1152-y. Epub 2015 Feb 21.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11548-015-1152-y      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25700699

Hibbard PB, Scott-Brown KC, Haigh EC, Adrain M (2014) Depth Perception Not Found in Human Observers for Static or Dynamic Anti-Correlated Random Dot Stereograms. PLoS ONE 9(1): e84087. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084087


Scott-Brown, K. C., Harris, J., Simmers, A., Thurston, M., Abbas, M. deMajo, T., Reynolds, I. Robinson, G. Mitchell, I, Gilmour, D. Martinez, S., & Isaacs, J. (2014) ‘Tapology: A game-based platform to facilitate e-health and e-inclusion’. In Stephanidis, C. & Antona, M. (Eds) Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction. Aging and Assistive Environments Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 8515, 2014, pp 368-377


Neil W. Kirk, Linda Fiala, Kenneth C. Scott-Brown & Vera Kempe (2014): No evidence for reduced Simon cost in elderly bilinguals and bidialectals, Journal of Cognitive Psychology, Aug 18; 26(6): 640–648. DOI:10.1080/20445911.2014.929580

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20445911.2014.929580  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164011/

Stainer M.J., Scott-Brown K.C. and Tatler B.W. (2013) Looking for trouble: a description of oculomotor search strategies during live CCTV operation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7:615. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00615 Special Issue on Neuroscience perspectives on Security: Technology, Detection and Decision Making.

Stainer M.J., Scott-Brown, K. C. and Tatler, B.W. (2013) Behavioural biases when viewing multiplexed scenes: scene structure and frames of reference for inspection. Frontiers in Psychology 4:624. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00624


Gilford, J. Falconer, R. Wade, R. and Scott-Brown, K. (2013) Virtual Environments and artistic images for raising awareness of Soil Sustainability Issues. European Journal of Engineering Education  Published online: 01 Aug 2013 DOI: 10.1080/03043797.2013.811472


Kirk, N. W., Scott-Brown, K. & Kempe, V. (2013 ) Do older Gaelic-English bilinguals show an advantage in inhibitory control? Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. P782-787 ISBN 978-0-9768318-9-1

Isaacs, J., Martinez, S., Milne, A. Scott-Brown, K. C., Evans, A, Gilmour, D. (2013 in press) Mobile Technology and E-Inclusion. In Stephanidis, C. & Antona, M. (Eds) Lecture Notes in Computer Science: Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction. Applications and Services for Quality of Life 626-635 Springer Berlin Heidelberg. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-39194-1_72

Martinez, S. Carrillo, A.L., Scott-Brown, K. and Falgueras, J. (2013) "AGILE Interface for 'No-Learning nor Experience required' Interaction" In Martín, E., Haya, P. A., & Carro, R. M. “User Modeling and Adaptation for Daily Routines” Human-Computer Interaction Series published by Springer. pp 119-151   http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4471-4778-7_5

Shovman, M., Scott-Brown, K., Szymkowiak, A., &  Bown, J. (2012) Shaping a view: rotation enabled structure perception in an interactive 3-D scatter plot visualisation task. Special Issue of Gestalt Theory 34, ¾ 381-398. Available now from http://gth.krammerbuch.at/sites/default/files/articles/AHAH%20callback/Scott_Brown_Scatterplots.pdf

Scott-Brown, K. C., Robinson, B., Moore F., Cook, M., Martinez, S. & Sloan, R. J. (2012) Systematic assessment of emotional expression using facial animation techniques. Perception. Vol 41 (Suppl.). P 234

Martinez, S., Sloan, R., Szymkowiak, A. & Scott-Brown, K. (2011). Animated Virtual Agents to Cue User Attention. International Journal On Advances in Intelligent Systems, 4(3 and 4), pp.299-308.

Available now from: http://www.thinkmind.org/download.php?articleid=intsys_v4_n34_2011_19

Scott-Brown, K.C., et al. 2010. Making a financial time machine: a multi-touch application to enable interactive 3-D visualization of distant savings goals. In: People and Computers XXIV Games are a Serious Business. Proceedings of HCI 2010 The 24th British HCI Group Annual Conference University of Abertay, Dundee, UK. 6 - 10 September 2010.

Available from

Runner up in best paper competition.

Hibbard, P, B,, Scott-Brown K,, Haigh E,, Adrain M,, 2011, "No evidence for the perception of depth in anticorrelated random dot stereograms in a large number of observers" Perception 40 ECVP Abstract Supplement, page 146 http://www.perceptionweb.com/abstract.cgi?id=v110555

Finnegan, S. and Scott-Brown, K. (2011) Screen selection and meta-cognitive error in a quadraplex video observation task. In: Vitu, F., Castet, E., & Goffart, L. (Eds.) (2011). Abstracts of the 16th European Conference on Eye Movements, Marseille, 21 - 25 August 2011. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 4(3) 98

Martinez, S., Sloan, R., Szymkowiak, A. & Scott-Brown, K. (2010) Using Virtual Agents to Cue Observer Attention: Assessment of the impact of agent animation. Paper presented to The Second International Conference on Creative Content Technologies CONTENT 2010. November 21-26, 2010 - Lisbon, Portugal. PP7-12. ISBN: 978-1-61208-001-7.

Available From http://www.thinkmind.org/index.php?view=article&articleid=content_2010_1_20_60036

Sloan, R.J.S., Robinson, B., Scott-Brown, K., Moore, F. and Cook, M. (2010). Choreographing emotional facial expressions. Journal of Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds. DOI: 10.1002/cav.339

Sloan, R.J.S., Robinson, B., Scott-Brown, K., Moore F. &  Cook, M. (2010) A practice-led approach to Facial Animation Research. In Proceedings of the ACM/SSPNET 2nd International Symposium on Facial Analysis and Animation (FAA '10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 16-16. DOI=10.1145/1924035.1924043 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1924035.1924043

Shovman, M., Szymkowiak, A., Bown, J., & Scott-Brown, K. (2010). Is visual search a high-level phenomenon? Evidence from structure perception in 3-D scatterplots. Perception, 39(March), 1149-1150. doi: 10.1068/ava10am.

Mayberry, L. & Scott-Brown, K. C. (2009) Looks like text messages take longer to comprehend than send. Perception, 38, p 627.

Shovman, M. M. Szymkowiak, A. Bown, J. L. & Scott-Brown, K. C. (2009) Changing the view: towards the theory of visualisation comprehension. In Information Visualisation. Ed. E. Banissi (Barcelona) pp 135-138.

Shovman, M. M., Scott-Brown, K. C. Szymkowiak, A & Bown, J. L. (2008) Use of ‘pop-out’ paradigm to test graph comprehension in a three-dimensional scatter plot. Perception Vol 37. Pp79-80.

Scott-Brown, K. C. & Cronin P. D. J. (2008) 'Detect the unexpected: A science for surveillance’ Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management 31 (3), 395-414. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/13639510810895777

Scott-Brown, K. C.  & Cronin, P. D. (2007) An instinct for detection: Psychological perspectives on CCTV surveillance. The Police Journal. 4, pp. 287-305. https://repository.abertay.ac.uk/jspui/handle/10373/497

Scott-Brown, K. C., & Mann, D. P. (2005). On the costs and benefits of display format in a video-based observation task. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 2nd symposium on Applied Perception in Graphics and Visualization, A Coroña, Spain.

Scott-Brown, K. C., & Rowan, P. (2004) On the selective benefits of colour on the detection of changes in naturalistic scenes. Perception (suppl.), 101c

Heeley, D.W., Scott-Brown, K. C., & Clark, S. (2003). Expansive Micropsia Perception (suppl.), 125a

Heeley, D.W., Scott-Brown, K.C., Reid, G. & Maitland, F. (2003) Interocular orientation disparity and the stereoscopic perception of slanted surfaces. Spatial Vision, 16, 183-207

Jordan, T.R., Thomas, S.M., Patching, G.R., & Scott-Brown, K.C. (2003) Assessing the importance of letter pairs in initial, exterior, and interior positions in reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition 29: 883–893.

Heeley, D.W., Scott-Brown, K.S., & Reid, G. (2002). Orientation disparity and the perception of surface slant Perception (suppl.),154a

Scott-Brown, K.C. & Heeley, D.W. (2001) The effect of the spatial arrangement of target lines on perceived speed. Vision Research, 41, 1669-1682  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11348649

Scott-Brown, K. C. & Jordan, T. R, (2000) A low-cost, accurate method of producing large quantities of digitally filtered images automatically. Behavior Research Methods Instruments and Computers. 32(3), 458-463. http://link.springer.com/article/10.3758%2FBF03200816

Scott-Brown, K.C., Baker, M. & Orbach, H.S. (2000) "Comparison Blindness". Visual Cognition 7, 253-267. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/135062800394793

Most Cited Paper: Follow the Comparison Blindness Citation Trail on Google Scholar. If you can't get hold of Visual Cognition then ask me for a pre-print.

Jordan, T. R., Thomas, S. M. & Scott-Brown, K. C. (1999) The Illusory Letters Phenomenon: An illustration of graphemic Restoration in visual word recognition. Perception. 28, 1413-1416. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10755149

Scott-Brown, K.C. & Orbach, H.S. (1998)."Contrast Discrimination, Non-Uniform Patterns and Change Blindness". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. 256(1410): 2159-2164. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1689507/

Please e-mail k.scott-brown@abertay.ac.uk if you require reprints or pre-prints of any articles.

More Information


Current funding from

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (PcI)

Leverhulme Trust (PcI)

Previous (PI) Projects generously funded by:

Carnegie Corporation of New York (PI)

Interface (PI)

EU FP7 - iAge (co-I)

AHRC - (co-I)

Project for Scotland Crucible Award (PI)

Interdisciplinary Project Fund Award from Scottish Crucible (Scottish Funding Council, Royal Society of Edinburgh, NESTA). (PI)


SIPR Research Project (PI)

NCR Design Visualisation Project (PI)

AHRC (Knowledge Exchange: Improved Community Engagement through Spatial and Visualisation methods (ICE-SAV) a AHRC Connected Communities project led by Sinderby, S. and Wade, R.)

Human Intelligent Virtual Environment PhD Studentships (PI)

European Social Fund (PI)

The British Academy (PI)

The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (Supervisor & PI)

The Wellcome Trust (Supervisor)


In 2011 I was inducted into the Scottish Crucible, a research leadership programme supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Funding Council.


Knowledge Exchange

I am Academic Enterprise Leader here at Abertay University.

Please get in touch if you want to work with or find out more about the University Research and Knowledge Exchange landscape.

I coordinate the Psychology Employers Forum here at Abertay. We have a range of members from business, private sector and the voluntary sector. If you would like to join, please get in touch via my contacts tab above left.

Examples of previous collaborations with industry and the public sector include Principal Investigator projects with Police Scotland (also in collaboration with Ben Tatler and Matt Stainer at Dundee University) and NCR Financial Solutions Ltd.



Cafe Science:

I am on the organising committee for Cafe Science Dundee: Conversations about Science over coffee. Talks are on the last Monday of every month at Avery and Co Coffee House, in South Tay St., Dundee.

I have appeared on BBC1's the One Show. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007tcw7) and have appeared in print and audio in the scottish printed media (Scotsman, Courier).

I have also been a judge on 1st Lego League for young people.

Our collaborative dialect research has featured extensively on the BBC, the national media and social media. Kirk, N. W., Kempe, V., Scott-Brown, K. C., Philipp, A. & Declerck, M. (2017)  Can monolinguals be like bilinguals? Evidence from dialect switching Cognition. 170, p. 164-178

See the Article on BBC News; See the viral meme on facebook 1.4+Million Views (See my Publications tab for links)

Meet the rest of the team

Dr Christopher Watkins

Dr Christopher Watkins

Division of Psychology | Senior Lecturer

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Ms Noelle McAra

Ms Noelle McAra

Division of Psychology | Lecturer

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