July 2013
Volume 13, Issue 9
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2013
Does perceptual learning require consciousness or attention?
Author Affiliations
  • Julia Meuwese
    Cognitive Neuroscience Group, Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Steven Scholte
    Cognitive Neuroscience Group, Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Victor Lamme
    Cognitive Neuroscience Group, Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Journal of Vision July 2013, Vol.13, 912. doi:10.1167/13.9.912
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      Julia Meuwese, Steven Scholte, Victor Lamme; Does perceptual learning require consciousness or attention?. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):912. doi: 10.1167/13.9.912.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Consciousness and attention have long been considered identical or overlapping processes, but recently it has been proposed that the two are in fact very different, and rely on separate neural mechanisms. This opens up a whole new set of questions in the field of perceptual learning. It is known that perceptual learning can occur ‘implicitly’, but thus far, little care has been given to whether the implicit nature of learning was due to a lack of attention of a lack of consciousness. We thus ask this simple question: does perceptual learning require consciousness or attention? In this fMRI experiment we presented textured figure-ground stimuli, and manipulated reportability either by masking (which only interferes with consciousness) or with an inattention paradigm (which only interferes with attention). 24 hours later learning was assessed neurally and behaviorally, via differences in figure-ground BOLD signal and via a detection task. Neural learning effects are found for stimuli presented in the inattention paradigm, and not for masked stimuli. Interestingly, the neural learning effect (for the attentional blindness group) only becomes apparent when performance feedback is given on the task that measures learning. This suggests that the memory trace that is formed during inattention is latent until accessed. Such latent learning without attention has not been shown before. Moreover, these results show that learning requires consciousness, and not attention, which further strengthens the idea that consciousness is separate from attention.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013

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