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Zhicheng Lin, Scott O. Murray; Visible propagation from invisible exogenous cueing. Journal of Vision 2013;13(11):12. doi: 10.1167/13.11.12.
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Perception and performance is affected not just by what we see but also by what we do not see—inputs that escape our awareness. While conscious processing and unconscious processing have been assumed to be separate and independent, here we report the propagation of unconscious exogenous cueing as determined by conscious motion perception. In a paradigm combining masked exogenous cueing and apparent motion, we show that, when an onset cue was rendered invisible, the unconscious exogenous cueing effect traveled, manifesting at uncued locations (4° apart) in accordance with conscious perception of visual motion; the effect diminished when the cue-to-target distance was 8° apart. In contrast, conscious exogenous cueing manifested in both distances. Further evidence reveals that the unconscious and conscious nonretinotopic effects could not be explained by an attentional gradient, nor by bottom-up, energy-based motion mechanisms, but rather they were subserved by top-down, tracking-based motion mechanisms. We thus term these effects mobile cueing. Taken together, unconscious mobile cueing effects (a) demonstrate a previously unknown degree of flexibility of unconscious exogenous attention; (b) embody a simultaneous dissociation and association of attention and consciousness, in which exogenous attention can occur without cue awareness (“dissociation”), yet at the same time its effect is contingent on conscious motion tracking (“association”); and (c) underscore the interaction of conscious and unconscious processing, providing evidence for an unconscious effect that is not automatic but controlled.
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