Non-Conscious Processing of Motion Coherence Can Boost Conscious Access

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Abstract

Research on the scope and limits of non-conscious vision can advance our understanding of the functional and neural underpinnings of visual awareness. Here we investigated whether distributed local features can be bound, outside of awareness, into coherent patterns. We used continuous flash suppression (CFS) to create interocular suppression, and thus lack of awareness, for a moving dot stimulus that varied in terms of coherence with an overall pattern (radial flow). Our results demonstrate that for radial motion, coherence favors the detection of patterns of moving dots even under interocular suppression. Coherence caused dots to break through the masks more often: this indicates that the visual system was able to integrate low-level motion signals into a coherent pattern outside of visual awareness. In contrast, in an experiment using meaningful or scrambled biological motion we did not observe any increase in the sensitivity of detection for meaningful patterns. Overall, our results are in agreement with previous studies on face processing and with the hypothesis that certain features are spatiotemporally bound into coherent patterns even outside of attention or awareness. © 2013 Kaunitz et al.

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Kaunitz, L., Fracasso, A., Lingnau, A., & Melcher, D. (2013). Non-Conscious Processing of Motion Coherence Can Boost Conscious Access. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0060787

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