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Hinze Hogendoorn, Thomas A. Carlson, Frans A. J. Verstraten; Mapping the route to visual awareness. Journal of Vision 2011;11(13):4. doi: 10.1167/11.13.4.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The “neural correlate” of perceptual awareness is much sought-after. Here, we present an novel approach to the identification of possible neural correlates, in which we exploit the temporal connection that inevitably links the selection process that determines what we become aware of, and the development of awareness itself. Because the speed of selection determines when downstream processes can first become involved in generating awareness, the latency of neural processes provides a way to isolate the neural correlates of awareness. We recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) while observers carried out a visual behavioral task designed to estimate attentional selection latency. We show that within-task trial-by-trial behavioral variability in attentional selection latency correlates to trial-by-trial variability in ERP latency. This was true in a posterior contralateral region, and in central and frontal areas, thereby implicating these as waypoints along which visual information flows on the way to visual awareness.
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