Dissociating conscious and unconscious influences on visual detection effects
SourceNature Human Behaviour, 5, 5, (2021), pp. 612-624
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC SMN
Nature Human Behaviour
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control
The scope of unconscious processing is highly debated, with recent studies showing that even high-level functions such as perceptual integration and category-based attention occur unconsciously. For example, upright faces that are suppressed from awareness through interocular suppression break into awareness more quickly than inverted faces. Similarly, verbal object cues boost otherwise invisible objects into awareness. Here, we replicate these findings, but find that they reflect a general difference in detectability not specific to interocular suppression. To dissociate conscious and unconscious influences on visual detection effects, we use an additional discrimination task to rule out conscious processes as a cause for these differences. Results from this detection-discrimination dissociation paradigm reveal that, while face orientation is processed unconsciously, category-based attention requires awareness. These findings provide insights into the function of conscious perception and offer an experimental approach for mapping out the scope and limits of unconscious processing.
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