David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Consciousness and Cognition 9 (1):50-65 (2000)
Previous research has demonstrated electroencephalogram (EEG) changes in response to low-odor concentrations, resulting in near-chance detection. Such findings have been taken as evidence for olfaction without awareness. We replicated and extended previous work by examining EEG responses to water-water control, 0.0001, 0.001, 0.01, and 1 ppm isoamyl acetate (IAA) in water paired with water only. Detection was above chance (>50%) for .001 and above, and alpha decreased only to those concentrations, suggesting that EEG changes corresponded to IAA awareness. However, when correct trial EEGs were compared to incorrect trial EEGs during .001 ppm, right posterior/central alpha decreased during incorrect trials and alpha decreased more globally (including frontal sites) during correct trials. These data may not reflect awareness or unawareness per se. Instead, results are discussed regarding activation of perceptual systems in the posterior region during incorrect trials and the activation of frontal action systems during a subset of correct trials.
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