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Brain Res. 2006 Mar 29;1080(1):91-100. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

The role of perceptual load in visual awareness.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


Does awareness depend on attention? This is a fundamental issue for understanding the relationship of attention and awareness, yet previous research provided mixed results. Here, I describe new research that shows that the effects of attention on awareness depend on the level of perceptual load in the attended task. Awareness reports in both the inattentional blindness and change blindness paradigms were found to depend on the extent to which an attended primary task loads attention. Neuroimaging results revealed the involvement of frontoparietal attention network in awareness and transcranial magnetic stimulation experiments confirmed a causal role for frontoparietal activity in awareness. These results clarify the role of attention and associated frontoparietal activity in visual awareness within the framework of load theory of attention.

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