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Melanie Genetti, Juliane Britz, Christoph M. Michel, Alan J. Pegna; An electrophysiological study of conscious visual perception using progressively degraded stimuli. Journal of Vision 2010;10(14):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/10.14.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous event-related potential (ERP) studies have provided mixed results regarding the earliest manifestations of conscious visual report. One possible explanation for the results could be that conscious visual perception emerges progressively rather than appearing as a binary transition. In the present study, we used electrical neuroimaging to identify the stages of processing that lead to the successful conscious identification of a briefly presented degraded stimulus. Grayscale images of faces and butterflies were presented for 16 ms and their visibility was manipulated by means of random image structure evolution (RISE). Three levels of RISE image distortions were used for each image. First, we determined an individual detection threshold of 50% for each subject. We then added two control conditions, namely fully degraded stimuli and stimuli that yielded 80% detection. Topographic ERP analyses revealed distinct effects for identified and unidentified stimuli at the threshold of detection. Four stages were observed that distinguished successful from unsuccessful stimulus identification. This shows that the events associated with conscious perception occurs at several distinct stages in time starting as early as 220 ms after stimulus presentation, rather than translating as a single temporal event and includes marked top-down activations when identification becomes difficult.
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