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Summary

The two central questions explored by papers in this area are: is there attention in the absence of consciousness (unconscious attention) and is there conscious experience or awareness in the absence of attention (consciousness without attention)? The debates about the existence of unconscious attention are frequently focused on the phenomenon of blindsight, though there have also been various experiments involving normal subjects that are taken to lend support to the existence of unconscious attention. Roughly, the point of contention is whether there is anything that is both unconscious and attended, and the candidates are objects, features of objects, and locations. Change and inattentional blindness experiments are sometimes taken to show that unattended objects or features are not consciously experienced. It has also been argued on an experimental basis that some visual phenomenal experience is unaccessed, and that vision has a finer grain than attention. 

Key works Key works on unconscious attention include: Kentridge et al 2008 and Mole 2008.  Key works on consciousness without attention include: Mack & Rock 1998 who claim that there may be no explicit awareness without attention; Mole 2008 who claims that attention may not be necessary for consciousness, but only for certain kinds of thought necessary for report; Block 2007 and Block 2011, who argues that some visual phenomenal experience is unaccessed; and Block 2012, Richards 2013, Taylor 2013, and Block 2013 who debate whether vision has a finer grain than attention that results in cases in which crowded objects are seen in the periphery of the visual field despite being unattended.
Introductions Mole et al 2011 is an anthology that provides a good introduction to issues surrounding attention and consciousness.
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602 found
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  1. Examining the Necessity of Attention for Consciousness in Iconic Memory Using Modified Stroop Paradigm.Mehdi Afzalinia, Imanollah Bigdeli & Javad Salehi Fadardi - forthcoming - Neuroscience Journal of Shefaye Khatam.
    One of the most challenging issues in cognitive science is whether attention is necessary for consciousness. It is said if we want to become conscious of something, we should already pay attention to it. But some studies have shown in some conditions, one of which iconic memory, consciousness happens without attention. Iconic memory results have shown that subjects report less than half items in the whole report but report nearly all the cued items. Although all the items in iconic memory (...)
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  2. Thought dynamics under task demands.Nick Brosowsky, Samuel Murray, Jonathan Schooler & Paul Seli - forthcoming - Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.
    As research on mind wandering has accelerated, the construct’s defining features have expanded and researchers have begun to examine different dimensions of mind wandering. Recently, Christoff and colleagues have argued for the importance of investigating a hitherto neglected variety of mind wandering: “unconstrained thought,” or, thought that is relatively unguided by executive-control processes. To date, with only a handful of studies investigating unconstrained thought, little is known about this intriguing type of mind wandering. Across two experiments, we examined, for the (...)
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  3. The impact of error-consequence severity on cue processing in importance-biased prospective memory.Kristina Krasich, Eva Gjorgieva, Samuel Murray, Shreya Bhatia, Myrthe Faber, Felipe De Brigard & Marty Woldorff - forthcoming - Cerebral Cortex Communications.
    Prospective memory (PM) enables people to remember to complete important tasks in the future. Failing to do so can result in consequences of varying severity. Here, we investigated how PM error-consequence severity impacts the neural processing of relevant cues for triggering PM and the ramification of that processing on the associated prospective task performance. Participants role-played a cafeteria worker serving lunches to fictitious students and had to remember to deliver an alternative lunch to students (as PM cues) who would otherwise (...)
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  4. What are the benefits of mind wandering to creativity?Samuel Murray, Nathan Liang, Nick Brosowsky & Paul Seli - forthcoming - Psychology of Creativity, Aesthetics, and the Arts.
    A primary aim of mind-wandering research has been to understand its influence on task performance. While this research has typically highlighted the costs of mind wandering, a handful of studies have suggested that mind wandering may be beneficial in certain situations. Perhaps the most-touted benefit is that mind wandering during a creative-incubation interval facilitates creative thinking. This finding has played a critical role in the development of accounts of the adaptive value of mind wandering and its functional role, as well (...)
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  5. The Philosophy of Mind Wandering.Irving Zachary & Thompson Evan - forthcoming - In Fox Kieran & Christoff Kalina (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Spontaneous Thought and Creativity. Oxford University Press.
    Our paper serves as an introduction to a budding field: the philosophy of mind-wandering. We begin with a philosophical critique of the standard psychological definitions of mind-wandering as task-unrelated or stimulus-independent. Although these definitions have helped bring mind-wandering research onto centre stage in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, they have substantial limitations that researchers must overcome to move forward. Specifically, the standard definitions do not account for (i) the dynamics of mind wandering, (ii) task-unrelated thought that does not qualify as mind-wandering, (...)
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  6. Predictive Processing and Object Recognition.Berit Brogaard & Thomas Alrik Sørensen - 2024 - In Tony Cheng, Ryoji Sato & Jakob Hohwy (eds.), Expected Experiences: The Predictive Mind in an Uncertain World. Routledge. pp. 112–139.
    Predictive processing models of perception take issue with standard models of perception as hierarchical bottom-up processing modulated by memory and attention. The predictive framework posits that the brain generates predictions about stimuli, which are matched to the incoming signal. Mismatches between predictions and the incoming signal – so-called prediction errors – are then used to generate new and better predictions until the prediction errors have been minimized, at which point a perception arises. Predictive models hold that all bottom-up processes are (...)
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  7. How to get rich from inflation.Simon Alexander Burns Brown - 2024 - Consciousness and Cognition 117 (C):103624.
    We seem to have rich experience across our visual field. Yet we are surprisingly poor at tasks involving the periphery and low spatial attention. Recently, Lau and collaborators have argued that a phenomenon known as “subjective inflation” allows us to reconcile these phenomena. I show inflation is consistent with multiple interpretations, with starkly different consequences for richness and for theories of consciousness more broadly. What’s more, we have only weak reasons favouring any of these interpretations over the others. I provisionally (...)
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  8. The self and conscious experience.Giorgio Marchetti - 2024 - Frontiers in Psychology 15 (1340943):1-15.
    The primary determinant of the self (S) is the conscious experience (CE) we have of it. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that empirical research on S mainly resorts to the CE (or lack of CE) that subjects have of their S. What comes as a surprise is that empirical research on S does not tackle the problem of how CE contributes to building S. Empirical research investigates how S either biases the cognitive processing of stimuli or is (...)
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  9. Template Tuning and Graded Consciousness.Berit Brogaard & Thomas Alrik Sørensen - 2023 - In Michal Polák, Tomáš Marvan & Juraj Hvorecký (eds.), Conscious and Unconscious Mentality: Examining Their Nature, Similarities and Differences. Routledge. pp. 251–273.
    Whether visual perceptual consciousness is gradable or dichotomous has been the subject of fierce debate in recent years. If perceptual consciousness is gradable, perceivers may have less than full access to—and thus be less than fully phenomenally aware of—perceptual information that is represented in working memory. This raises the question: In virtue of what can a subject be less than fully perceptually conscious? In this chapter, we provide an answer to this question, according to which inexact categorizations of visual input (...)
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  10. Consciousness, Attention, and the Motivation-Affect System.Tom Cochrane - 2023 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 30 (7):139-163.
    It is an important feature of creatures like us that our various motivations compete for control over our behaviour, including mental behaviour such as imagining and attending. In large part, this competition is adjudicated by the stimulation of affect — the intrinsically pleasant or unpleasant aspects of experience. In this paper I argue that the motivation-affect system controls a sub-type of attention called 'alerting attention' to bring various goals and stimuli to consciousness and thereby prioritize those contents for action. This (...)
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  11. The limits of aesthetic seeing.Pablo Fontoura - 2023 - Perspectiva Filosófica 50 (2):92-108.
    This article explores the concept of sight perception from both cognitive and aesthetic perspectives, by examining the limits of visual attention. It discusses how conscious and unconscious mechanisms can influence what individuals see and may experience aesthetically. It also presents empirical research employing eye-tracking to analyze the visual behavior of visitors of an art exhibition viewing a painting of Japanese artist Isson Tanaka (1908-1977). The study demonstrates that indiscernible aspects of vision interact on the limits of perception, which gives birth (...)
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  12. The why of the phenomenal aspect of consciousness: Its main functions and the mechanisms underpinning it.Giorgio Marchetti - 2022 - Frontiers in Psychology 913309 (13):1-20.
    What distinguishes conscious information processing from other kinds of information processing is its phenomenal aspect (PAC), the-what-it-is-like for an agent to experience something. The PAC supplies the agent with a sense of self, and informs the agent on how its self is affected by the agent’s own operations. The PAC originates from the activity that attention performs to detect the state of what I define “the self” (S). S is centered and develops on a hierarchy of innate and acquired values, (...)
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  13. The Phenomenal Contribution of Attention.Jonathan Mitchell - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Strong or Pure Intentionalism is the view that the phenomenal character of a conscious experience is exhaustively determined by its intentional content. Contrastingly, impure intentionalism holds that there are also non content-based aspects or features which contribute to phenomenal character. Conscious attention is one such feature: arguably its contribution to the phenomenal character of a given conscious experience are not exhaustively captured in terms of what that experience represents, that is in terms of properties of its intentional object. This paper (...)
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  14. Studying Spatial Visual Attention: The Attention-Window Task as a Measurement Tool for the Shape and Maximum Spread of the Attention Window.Stefanie Klatt & Daniel Memmert - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    Visual attentional processes have been an important topic in psychological research for years. Over the last few decades, new methods have been developed, aiming to explore the characteristics of the focus of attention in more detail. Studies that applied the “Attention-Window Task” quantified the maximum extent of the “Attention Window” along its horizontal, vertical, and diagonal meridians, when subjects were required to perceive two peripheral stimuli simultaneously. In three experiments using the AWT, we investigated the effects of cue validity, stimulus-onset (...)
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  15. The Association Between Effectiveness of Tinnitus Intervention and Cognitive Function—A Systematic Review.Tianxiang Lan, Zuwei Cao, Fei Zhao & Nick Perham - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    Tinnitus refers to the perception of sound in the absence of an external stimulus. This can be problematic and can lead to health problems in some sufferers, including effects on cognitive functions such as attention and memory. Although several studies have examined the effectiveness of tinnitus interventions, e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy and sound therapy, it is still unclear as to the overall quality and limitations of these studies and whether their results could be generalized. Clarification is also needed as to (...)
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  16. Who wrote that? Automaticity and reduced sense of agency in individuals prone to dissociative absorption.Noa Bregman-Hai, Yoav Kessler & Nirit Soffer-Dudek - 2020 - Consciousness and Cognition 78 (C):102861.
  17. The Attending Mind.Carolyn Dicey Jennings - 2020 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
    Attention is essential to the life of the mind, a central topic in cognitive science, neuroscience, and psychology. Traditional debates in philosophy stand to benefit from greater understanding of the phenomenon, whether on the nature of the self, the foundation of knowledge, the natural basis of consciousness, or the origins of action and responsibility. This book is at the crossroads of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, offering a new theoretical stance on the concept of attention and how it intersects (...)
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  18. Consciousness and Attention.Christopher Mole - 2020 - In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    As a tactic for preventing an enquiry into attention’s relationship to consciousness from lapsing into ill-definition, this chapter treats ‘attention’ as a term defined by the role that is assigned to it in our explanations of empirically established psychological phenomena (especially those involving the modulation of reaction times). It reviews evidence showing that such modulations are associated with processing that stands in various relations to consciousness. The psychological phenomena that explain these modulations cannot be identified with the causes of consciousness. (...)
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  19. Can the mind wander intentionally?Samuel Murray & Kristina Krasich - 2020 - Mind and Language 37 (3):432-443.
    Mind wandering is typically operationalized as task-unrelated thought. Some argue for the need to distinguish between unintentional and intentional mind wandering, where an agent voluntarily shifts attention from task-related to task-unrelated thoughts. We reveal an inconsistency between the standard, task-unrelated thought definition of mind wandering and the occurrence of intentional mind wandering (together with plausible assumptions about tasks and intentions). This suggests that either the standard definition of mind wandering should be rejected or that intentional mind wandering is an incoherent (...)
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  20. What's in a task? Complications in the study of the task-unrelated-thought (TUT) variety of mind wandering.Samuel Murray, Kristina Krasich, Jonathan Schooler & Paul Seli - 2020 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 15 (3):572 - 588.
    In recent years, the number of studies examining mind wandering has increased considerably, and research on the topic has spread widely across various domains of psychological research. Although the term “mind wandering” has been used to refer to various cognitive states, researchers typically operationalize mind wandering in terms of “task-unrelated thought” (TUT). Research on TUT has shed light on the various task features that require people’s attention, and on the consequences of task inattention. Important methodological and conceptual complications do persist, (...)
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  21. The Mystic and the Metaphysician: Clarifying the Role of Meditation in the Search for Ultimate Reality.M. Albahari - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (7-8):12-36.
    To seek fundamental truths, analytic metaphysicians generally start with observed phenomena. From here they typically move outwards, using discursive thought to posit scientifically informed theories about the ultimate reality behind appearances. Mystics, too, seek to uncover the reality behind appearances. However, their meditative methods typically start with experience and go inwards to a fundamental reality sometimes described as a pure conscious unity. Analytic metaphysicians may be tempted to dismiss the mystical approach as unworthy of investigation. In this paper I will (...)
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  22. Anticipated, experienced, and remembered subjective effort and discomfort on sustained attention versus working memory tasks.Veerpal Bambrah, Chia-Fen Hsu, Maggie E. Toplak & John D. Eastwood - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 75 (C):102812.
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  23. What Do We Need to Know to Know that Animals are Conscious of What They Know?Gary Comstock - 2019 - Animal Behavior and Cognition 6 (4):289-308.
    In this paper I argue for the following six claims: 1) The problem is that some think metacognition and consciousness are dissociable. 2) The solution is not to revive associationist explanations; 3) …nor is the solution to identify metacognition with Carruthers’ gatekeeping mechanism. 4) The solution is to define conscious metacognition; 5) … devise an empirical test for it in humans; and 6) … apply it to animals.
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  24. Translating experimental paradigms into individual-differences research: Contributions, challenges, and practical recommendations.Stephanie C. Goodhew & Mark Edwards - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 69:14-25.
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  25. Attentional blink affected by acute stress in women: The role of affective stimuli and attentional resources.Yuecui Kan, Haijun Duan, Xitong Chen, Xuewei Wang, Wenlong Xue & Weiping Hu - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 75:102796.
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  26. The Idea of the World: A multi-disciplinary argument for the mental nature of reality.Bernardo Kastrup - 2019 - Winchester, UK: Iff Books.
    The Idea of the World offers a grounded alternative to the frenzy of unrestrained abstractions and unexamined assumptions in philosophy and science today. This book examines what can be learned about the nature of reality based on conceptual parsimony, straightforward logic and empirical evidence from fields as diverse as physics and neuroscience. It compiles an overarching case for idealism - the notion that reality is essentially mental - from ten original articles the author has previously published in leading academic journals. (...)
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  27. Dispositional mindfulness attenuates the emotional attentional blink.Dominique Makowski, Marco Sperduti, Samantha Lavallée, Serge Nicolas & Pascale Piolino - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 67:16-25.
  28. Resting EEG in alpha and beta bands predicts individual differences in attentional breadth.Brent Pitchford & Karen M. Arnell - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 75:102803.
  29. Enhancing Mindfulness by Combining Neurofeedback with Meditation.M. Prestel & R. Riedl - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (7-8):268-293.
    In meditation, mind-wandering has to be noticed and stopped in order to attain and sustain a state of mindfulness. Mindwandering has been linked to increased activity in the default mode network (DMN). We found that hemodynamic activity in the DMN was inversely related to frontal midline theta (FMT) EEG activity. In addition, a recent study reported that FMT power was reduced during mind-wandering and increased during deep meditation. In our experiment, six subjects were introduced to two forms of meditation to (...)
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  30. In Defence of Bare Attention: A Phenomenological Interpretation of Mindfulness.J. Puc - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (5-6):170-190.
    'Mindfulness' is arguably the most important concept to have transplanted from Buddhist thought to contemporary Western psychology. However, whilst mindfulness was already an ambiguous term in the original context, specified more by a set of practices than by a clear definition, its cross-cultural transmission has blurred its content even further. In this paper, I assess the recent criticism of the widespread definition of mindfulness as non-elaborative, purely receptive 'bare attention'. According to the critics of bare attention, what can be characterized (...)
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  31. Examining effects of preconscious mere exposure: An inattentional blindness approach.Giulia Pugnaghi, Daniel Memmert & Carina Kreitz - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 75:102825.
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  32. Self-Association and Attentional Processing Regarding Perceptually Salient Items.Alejandra Sel, Jie Sui, Joshua Shepherd & Glyn Humphreys - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (4):735-746.
    Earlier work has demonstrated that attention is indirectly cognitively malleable by processes of self-association – processes by which agents explicitly associate an item with the self. We extend this work by considering the manipulation of attention to both salient and non-salient objects. We demonstrate that self-association impacts attentional processing not only of non-salient objects, but also regarding salient items known to command attention. This result indicates the flexibility and susceptibility of attentional processing to cognitive manipulation.
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  33. Motor response influences perceptual awareness judgements.Marta Siedlecka, Justyna Hobot, Zuzanna Skóra, Borysław Paulewicz, Bert Timmermans & Michał Wierzchoń - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 75:102804.
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  34. Attention and perceptual justification.Nicholas Silins & Susanna Siegel - 2019 - In Adam Pautz & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), Blockheads! Essays on Ned Block’s Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  35. Review of Meaning and the Growth of Understanding Wittgenstein's Significance for Developmental Psychology -- Chapman and Dixon Eds. (1987)(review revised 2019).Michael Starks - 2019 - In The Logical Structure of Human Behavior. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 209-224.
    Although now over 25 years old, many of the essays are quite contemporary. As expected, none of the authors grasp the full relevance of W for the description of behavior, missing most of the points made in my comments above, his many examples of how S1 becomes S2, his role as a pioneer in EP, and his attempts to separate nature from nurture. Brose has many good points and is aware of the foundational nature of On Certainty, but is too (...)
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  36. The transparency of experience and the neuroscience of attention.Assaf Weksler, Hilla Jacobson & Zohar Z. Bronfman - 2019 - Synthese 198 (5):4709-4730.
    According to the thesis of transparency, subjects can attend only to the representational content of perceptual experience, never to the intrinsic properties of experience that carry this representational content, i.e., to “mental paint.” So far, arguments for and against transparency were conducted from the armchair, relying mainly on introspective observations. In this paper, we argue in favor of transparency, relying on the cognitive neuroscience of attention. We present a trilemma to those who hold that attention can be directed to mental (...)
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  37. Action always involves attention.Wayne Wu - 2019 - Analysis 79 (4):693-703.
    Jennings and Nanay argue against my claim that action entails attention by providing putative counterexamples to the claim that action entails a Many–Many Problem. This reply demonstrates that they have misunderstood the central notion of a pure reflex on which my argument depends. A simplified form of the argument from pure reflex to the Many–Many Problem as a necessary feature of agency is given, and putative counterexamples of action without attention are addressed. Attention is present in every action. In passing, (...)
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  38. Getting It Together: Psychological Unity and Deflationary Accounts of Animal Metacognition.Gary Comstock & William A. Bauer - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (4):431-451.
    Experimenters claim some nonhuman mammals have metacognition. If correct, the results indicate some animal minds are more complex than ordinarily presumed. However, some philosophers argue for a deflationary reading of metacognition experiments, suggesting that the results can be explained in first-order terms. We agree with the deflationary interpretation of the data but we argue that the metacognition research forces the need to recognize a heretofore underappreciated feature in the theory of animal minds, which we call Unity. The disparate mental states (...)
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  39. Flow, Altered States of Consciousness, and Human Evolution.M. Csikszentmihalyi & J. Nakamura - 2018 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 25 (11-12):102-114.
    One important deviation from the ordinary, or 'paramount', state of consciousness is what has been called the flow experience. This transient state is characterized by focused attention on a limited stimulus field containing challenges matching or marginally higher than the person's skills, and it is sought out by people because the state is an enjoyable one that they wish to experience again and again. The experience of flow is characterized by loss of selfconsciousness, a distorted sense of time's passage, and (...)
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  40. Attention is a sterile concept; iterative reentry is a fertile substitute.Vincent Di Lollo - 2018 - Consciousness and Cognition 64:45-49.
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  41. Perceptual averaging of facial expressions requires visual awareness and attention.Elric Elias, Lauren Padama & Timothy D. Sweeny - 2018 - Consciousness and Cognition 62:110-126.
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  42. Influence of automation on mind wandering frequency in sustained attention.Jonas Gouraud, Arnaud Delorme & Bruno Berberian - 2018 - Consciousness and Cognition 66:54-64.
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  43. Are the States Underlying Implicit Biases Unconscious? – A Neo-Freudian Answer.Beate Krickel - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 31 (6):1007-1026.
    Many philosophers as well as psychologists hold that implicit biases are due to unconscious attitudes. The justification for this unconscious-claim seems to be an inference to the best explanation of the mismatch between explicit and implicit attitudes, which is characteristic for implicit biases. The unconscious-claim has recently come under attack based on its inconsistency with empirical data. Instead, Gawronski et al. (2006) analyze implicit biases based on the so-called Associative-Propositional Evaluation (APE) model, according to which implicit attitudes are phenomenally conscious (...)
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  44. Attention, expectation and iconic memory: A reply to Aru and Bachmann.Arien Mack, Jason Clarke & Muge Erol - 2018 - Consciousness and Cognition 59:60-63.
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  45. Immobilization does not disrupt near-hand attentional biases.Robert McManus & Laura E. Thomas - 2018 - Consciousness and Cognition 64 (C):50-60.
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  46. The effect of movement-focused and breath-focused yoga practice on stress parameters and sustained attention: A randomized controlled pilot study.Laura Schmalzl, Chivon Powers, Anthony P. Zanesco, Neil Yetz, Erik J. Groessl & Clifford D. Saron - 2018 - Consciousness and Cognition 65:109-125.
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  47. Inattentional blindness on the full-attention trial: Are we throwing out the baby with the bathwater?Rebekah C. White, Martin Davies & Anne M. Aimola Davies - 2018 - Consciousness and Cognition 59:64-77.
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  48. Expectation creates something out of nothing: The role of attention in iconic memory reconsidered.Jaan Aru & Talis Bachmann - 2017 - Consciousness and Cognition 53:203-210.
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  49. Attention and Mental Primer.Jacob Beck & Keith A. Schneider - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (4):463-494.
    Drawing on the empirical premise that attention makes objects look more intense, Ned Block has argued for mental paint, a phenomenal residue that cannot be reduced to what is perceived or represented. If sound, Block's argument would undermine direct realism and representationism, two widely held views about the nature of conscious perception. We argue that Block's argument fails because the empirical premise it is based upon is false. Attending to an object alters its salience, but not its perceived intensity. We (...)
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  50. Multisensory Processing and Perceptual Consciousness: Part II.Robert Eamon Briscoe - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (12):1-13.
    The first part of this survey article presented a cartography of some of the more extensively studied forms of multisensory processing. In this second part, I turn to examining some of the different possible ways in which the structure of conscious perceptual experience might also be characterized as multisensory. In addition, I discuss the significance of research on multisensory processing and multisensory consciousness for philosophical debates concerning the modularity of perception, cognitive penetration, and the individuation of the senses.
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