Preattentive precursors to phenomenal properties


What are the relations between preattentive feature-placing and states of perceptual awareness? For the purposes of this paper, states of "perceptual awareness" are confined to the simplest possible exemplars: states in which one is aware of some aspect of the appearance of something one perceives. Subjective contours are used as an example. Early visual processing seems to employ independent, high-bandwidth, preattentive feature "channels", followed by a selective process that directs selective attention. The mechanisms that yield subjective contours are found very early in this processing. An experiment by Greg Davis and Jon Driver is described; it seems to show that multiple subjective figures can be coded in these preattentive, parallel stages of visual processing. I propose that some of these preattentive states might register the very same differences that, were one aware of them, would be phenomenal differences. Some arguments pro and con on this possibility are assessed



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