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Consciousness and attention: on sufficiency and necessity

van Boxtel, Jeroen J. A. and Tsuchiya, Naotsugu and Christof, Koch (2010) Consciousness and attention: on sufficiency and necessity. Frontiers in Psychology, 1 . Art. no. 217. ISSN 1664-1078. PMCID PMC3153822.

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Recent research has slowly corroded a belief that selective attention and consciousness are so tightly entangled that they cannot be individually examined. In this review, we summarize psychophysical and neurophysiological evidence for a dissociation between top-down attention and consciousness. The evidence includes recent findings that show subjects can attend to perceptually invisible objects. More contentious is the finding that subjects can become conscious of an isolated object, or the gist of the scene in the near absence of top-down attention; we critically re-examine the possibility of “complete” absence of top-down attention. We also cover the recent flurry of studies that utilized independent manipulation of attention and consciousness. These studies have shown paradoxical effects of attention, including examples where top-down attention and consciousness have opposing effects, leading us to strengthen and revise our previous views. Neuroimaging studies with EEG, MEG, and fMRI are uncovering the distinct neuronal correlates of selective attention and consciousness in dissociative paradigms. These findings point to a functional dissociation: attention as analyzer and consciousness as synthesizer. Separating the effects of selective visual attention from those of visual consciousness is of paramount importance to untangle the neural substrates of consciousness from those for attention.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralPubMed article
van Boxtel, Jeroen J. A.0000-0003-2643-0474
Christof, Koch0000-0001-6482-8067
Additional Information:Copyright: © 2010 van Boxtel, Tsuchiya and Koch. Received: 15 June 2010; Paper pending published: 02 August 2010; Accepted: 16 November 2010; Published online: 20 December 2010. Jeroen J. A. van Boxtel is supported by a Rubicon grant of the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research. Naotsugu Tsuchiya is supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. We thank Patrick Cavanagh and other audience members at the Rovereto Attention Workshop in 2009 and at the workshop at Vision Science Society 2010 for a stimulating discussion, and Jan Brascamp for comments on the manuscript. The research discussed here is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Mathers Foundation, the Gimbel Fund and the WCU program through the National Research Foundation of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (R31-2008-000-10008-0) to Christof Koch. We thank the two reviewers for their helpful and insightful comments and suggestions.
Group:Koch Laboratory (KLAB)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Netherlands Society of Scientific ResearchRubicon grant
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)UNSPECIFIED
Mathers FoundationUNSPECIFIED
National Research Foundation of Korea WCU ProgramR31-2008-000-10008-0
Subject Keywords:attention, consciousness, psychophysics, neuroimaging
PubMed Central ID:PMC3153822
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130816-103400521
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Official Citation:van Boxtel JJA, Tsuchiya N and Koch C (2010) Consciousness and attention: on sufficiency and necessity. Front. Psychology 1:217. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00217
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:40681
Deposited By: KLAB Import
Deposited On:10 Feb 2012 23:20
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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