Subliminalperception (SP) is today considered a well-supported theory stating that perception can occur without conscious awareness and have a significant impact on later behaviour and thought. In this article, we first present and discuss different approaches to the study of SP. In doing this, we claim that most approaches are based on a dichotomic measure of awareness. Drawing upon recent advances and discussions in the study of introspection and phenomenological psychology, we argue for both the possibility (...) and necessity of using an elaborated measure of subjective states. In the second part of the article, we present findings where these considerations are implemented in an empirical study. The results and implications are discussed in detail, both with reference to SP, and in relation to the more general problem of using elaborate introspective reports as data in relation to studies of cognition. (shrink)
This article reports four subliminalperception experiments using the relationship between confidence and accuracy to assess awareness. Subjects discriminated among stimuli and indicated their confidence in each discrimination response. Subjects were classified as being aware of the stimuli if their confidence judgments predicted accuracy and as being unaware if they did not. In the first experiment, confidence predicted accuracy even at stimulus durations so brief that subjects claimed to be performing at chance. This finding indicates that subjects's claims (...) that they are ''just guessing'' should not be accepted as sufficient evidence that they are completely unaware of the stimuli. Experiments 2-4 tested directly for subliminalperception by comparing the minimum exposure duration needed for better than chance discrimination performance against the minimum needed for confidence to predict accuracy. The latter durations were slightly but significantly longer, suggesting that under certain circumstances people can make perceptual discriminations even though the information that was used to make those discriminations is not consciously available. (shrink)
Reingold and MerikleÕs (1988, 1990) critique of the classic dissociation paradigm identiﬁed several issues as inherent problems that severely undermine the utility of this paradigm. Erdelyi (2004) extending his prior analysis (Erdelyi, 1985, 1986) points out several additional factors that may complicate the interpretation of empirically obtained dissociations. The goal of the present manuscript is to further discuss some of these commonly neglected interpretive diﬃculties. Ó 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In their comment on Sandberg, Timmermans, Overgaard, and Cleeremans (2010), Dienes and Seth argue that increased sensitivity of the Perceptual Awareness Scale (PAS) is a consequence of the scale being less exclusive rather than more exhaustive. According to Dienes and Seth, this is because PAS may measure some conscious content, though not necessarily relevant conscious content, ‘‘If one saw a square but was only aware of seeing a flash of something, then one has not consciously seen a square.” In this (...) reply, we claim that there is a difference between conscious visual experience, which may be partial, and the resulting conscious content, which is conceptual. Whereas PAS measures the first, confidence judgments and post-decision wagering measure the second. (shrink)
We argue that the effects of evaluative learning may occur (a) without conscious perception of the affective stimuli, (b) without awareness of the stimulus contingencies, and (c) without any awareness that learning has occurred at all. Whether the three experiments reported in our target article provide conclusive evidence for either or any of these assertions is discussed in the commentaries of De Houwer and Field. We respond with the argument that when considered alongside other studies carried out over the (...) past few decades, our experiments provide compelling evidence for a theory that posits a dissociation between evaluative learning and contingency awareness. (shrink)
Dienes and Seth (2010) conclude that confidence ratings and post-decision wagering are two comparable and recommendable measures of conscious experience. In a recently submitted paper, we have however found that both methods are problematic and seem less suited to measure consciousness than a direct introspective measure. Here, we discuss the methodology and conclusions put forward by Dienes and Seth, and why we think the two experiments end up with so different recommendations.
A companion paper explored the role of intuition in the genesis of an alternative theory for the secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes, looking through the lens of three philosophers/historians of science. Gerald Holton, the last scholar, proposed that scientific imagination is shaped by a number of thematic presuppositions, which function largely below awareness. They come in pairs of opposites that alternately gain cultural preeminence. The current paper examines three thematic presuppositions inherent to both the generally accepted model for digestive enzyme (...) secretion and most consciousness-centered views of higher-level cognition—discreteness, reduction, and simplicity. Since they often build on each other, together they are referred to as the simplicity worldview . Also considered are the three opposite thematic assumptions inherent to both the alternative model for digestive enzyme secretion and intuition-friendly views of higher-level cognition—the continuum, holism, and complexity—together referred to as the complexity worldview . The article highlights the potential importance to scientific knowledge of this currently less favored worldview. (shrink)
Amidst the many brain events evoked by a visual stimulus, which are specifically associated with conscious perception, and which merely reflect non-conscious processing? Several recent neuroimaging studies have contrasted conscious and non-conscious visual processing, but their results appear inconsistent. Some support a correlation of conscious perception with early occipital events, others with late parieto-frontal activity. Here we attempt to make sense of those dissenting results. On the basis of a minimal neuro-computational model, the global neuronal workspace hypothesis, we (...) propose a taxonomy which distinguishes between vigilance and access to conscious report, as well as between subliminal, preconscious and conscious processing. We suggest that these distinctions map onto different neural mechanisms, and that conscious perception is systematically associated with a sudden surge of parieto-frontal activity causing top-down amplification. (shrink)
Kant argued that the perceptual representations of space and time were templates for the perceived spatiotemporal ordering of objects, and common to all modalities. His idea is that these perceptual representations were specific to no modality, but prior to all—they are pre-modal, so to speak. In this paper, it is argued that active perception—purposeful interactive exploration of the environment by the senses—demands premodal representations of time and space.
Is speech special? This paper evaluates the evidence that speech perception is distinctive when compared with non-linguistic auditory perception. It addresses the phenomenology, contents, objects, and mechanisms involved in the perception of spoken language. According to the account it proposes, the capacity to perceive speech in a manner that enables understanding is an acquired perceptual skill. It involves learning to hear language-specific types of ethologically significant sounds. According to this account, the contents of perceptual experience when listening (...) to familiar speech are of a variety that is distinctive to hearing spoken utterances. However, perceiving speech involves neither novel perceptual objects nor a unique perceptual modality. Much of what makes speech special stems from our interest in it. (shrink)
I argue that perception is necessarily situation-dependent. The way an object is must not just be distinguished from the way it appears and the way it is represented, but also from the way it is presented given the situational features. First, I argue that the way an object is presented is best understood in terms of external, mind-independent, but situation-dependent properties of objects. Situation-dependent properties are exclusively sensitive to and ontologically dependent on the intrinsic properties of objects, such as (...) their shape, size, and color, and the situational features, such as the lighting conditions and the perceiver’s location in relation to the perceived object. Second, I argue that perceiving intrinsic properties is epistemically dependent on representing situation-dependent properties. Recognizing situation-dependent properties yields four advantages. It makes it possible to embrace the motivations that lead to phenomenalism and indirect realism by recognizing that objects are presented a certain way, while holding on to the intuition that subjects directly perceive objects. Second, it acknowledges that perceptions are not just individuated by the objects they are of, but by the ways those objects are presented given the situational features. Third, it allows for a way to accommodate the fact that there is a wide range of viewing conditions or situational features that can count as normal. Finally, it makes it possible to distinguish perception and thought about the same object with regard to what is represented. (shrink)