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Catherine Tallon-Baudry; From global to local in conscious vison: behavior & MEG. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):63. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.9.63.
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The reverse hierarchy theory makes strong predictions on conscious vision. Local details would be processed in early visual areas before being rapidly and automatically combined into global information in higher order area, where conscious percepts would initially emerge. The theory thus predicts that consciousness arises initially in higher order visual areas, independently from attention and task, and that additional and optional attentional processes operating from top to bottom are needed to retrieve local details. We designed novel textured stimuli that, as opposed to Navon's letters, are truly hierarchical. Taking advantage of both behavioral measures and of the decoding of MEG data, we show that global information is consciously perceived faster than local details, and that global information is computed regardless of task demands during early visual processing. These results support the idea that global dominance in conscious percepts originates in the hierarchical organization of the visual system. Implications for the nature of conscious visual experience and its underlying neural mechanisms will be discussed.
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