Types of attention matter for awareness: a study with color afterimages

Consciousness and Cognition 18 (4):1039-1048 (2009)
It has been argued that attention and awareness might oppose each other given that attending to an adapting stimulus weakens its afterimage. We argue instead that the type of attention guided by the spread of attention and the level of processing is critical and might result in differences in awareness using afterimages. Participants performed a central task with small, large, local or global letters and a blue square as an adapting stimulus in two experiments and indicated the onset and offset of the afterimage. We found that increases in the spatial spread of attention resulted in the decrease of afterimage duration. In terms of levels of processing, global processing produced larger afterimage durations with stimuli controlled for spatial extent. The results suggest that focused or distributed attention produce different effects on awareness, possibly through their differential interactions with polarity dependent and independent processes involved in the formation of color afterimages.
Keywords Awareness  Attention  Afterimages
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DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2009.09.002
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Ronald A. Rensink (2002). Change Detection. Philosophical Explorations 53:245-277.

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