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Glyn Humphreys, Jie Sui; The self survives extinction: Self-association biases attention in patients with visual extinction. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):194. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/16.12.194.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
People show biases to self-related information on a range of tasks. One key controversial question is whether self-related information is processed without awareness, which then determines what is attended. We examined this using patients showing visual extinction. Extinction patients can respond to a single stimulus on their affected side but are unaware of the same item if another stimulus appears at the same time on the unimpaired side. This dramatic loss of awareness can be affected by the properties of stimuli, providing an index of which stimulus properties can be processed without awareness. We had patients associate different shapes with themselves or their best friend and then had them identify single or pairs of shapes. When the self-shape was paired with the shape for the friend, patients showed extinction of the friend shape and reported the self shape even when it was on the affected side and the friend on the unimpaired side. The data provide novel evidence that self-relatedness can be computed without awareness and then affects which region of space patients attend to. Self-relatedness can shift stimuli from unconscious to a conscious state, consistent with self-reference providing a fundamental aspect of cognition.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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