A spatially oriented decision does not induce consciousness in a motor task

Consciousness and Cognition 7 (3):454-464 (1998)
Visual information follows at least two branches in the human nervous system, following a common input stage: a cognitive ''what'' branch governs perception and experience, while a sensorimotor ''how'' branch handles visually guided behavior though its outputs are unconscious. The sensorimotor system is probed with an isomorphic task, requiring a 1:1 relationship between target position and motor response. The cognitive system, in contrast, is probed with a forced qualitative decision, expressed verbally, about the location of a target. Normally, the cognitive system is influenced by context-induced illusions of visual direction, while the sensorimotor system is not. Here, we inquire whether the process of making a spatially based decision is critical in forcing subjects to use the information in the cognitive system for spatial tasks. Subjects hear a tone that determines whether they jab an ''X'' or an ''O'' with the forefinger. Despite making a decision about which target to contact, the jab is not influenced by the position of a surrounding frame, indicating that choice can be handled within the context-insensitive sensorimotor system
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