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Neuropsychologia. 2004;42(6):831-5.

Spatial attention speeds discrimination without awareness in blindsight.

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Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit, Department of Psychology, Science Laboratories, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK.


An intimate relationship is often assumed between visual attention and visual awareness. Using a subject, patient GY, with the neurological condition of "blindsight" we show that although attention may be a necessary precursor to visual awareness it is not a sufficient one. Using a Posner endogenous spatial cueing paradigm we showed that the time our subject needed to discriminate the orientation of a stimulus was reduced if he was cued to the location of the stimulus. This reaction-time advantage was obtained without any decrease in discrimination accuracy and cannot therefore be attributed to speed-error trade-off or differences in bias between cued and uncued locations. As a result of his condition GY was not aware of the stimuli to which processing was attentionally facilitated. Attention cannot, therefore be a sufficient condition for awareness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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