Illusions that produce perceptual suppression despite constant retinal input are used to manipulate visual consciousness. Here we report on a powerful variant of existing techniques, Continuous Flash Suppression. Distinct images flashed successively around 10 Hz into one eye reliably suppress an image presented to the other eye. Compared to binocular rivalry, the duration of perceptual suppression increased more than 10-fold. Using this tool we show that the strength of the negative afterimage of an adaptor was reduced by half when it (...) was perceptually suppressed by input from the other eye. The more likely the adaptor was completely suppressed, the larger the reduction of the afterimage intensity. Paradoxically, trial-to-trial visibility of the adaptor did not correlate with the degree of suppression. Our results imply that formation of afterimages involves neuronal structures that access input from both eyes, but that do not correspond directly to the neuronal correlates of perceptual awareness. (shrink)
We agree with Block's basic hypothesis postulating the existence of phenomenal consciousness without cognitive access. We explain such states in terms of consciousness without top-down, endogenous attention and speculate that their correlates may be a coalition of neurons that are consigned to the back of cortex, without access to working memory and planning in frontal cortex.
Aftereffects induced by invisible stimuli constitute a powerful tool to investigate what type of neural information processing can occur in the absence of visual awareness. This approach has been successfully used to demonstrate that awareness of oriented gratings or translating stimuli is not necessary to obtain a robust orientation-specific or motion-specific aftereffect. We exploit motion-induced blindness to investigate the related question of the influence of visual awareness on the formation of negative afterimages. Our results show that MIB does not affect (...) the persistence and intensity of afterimages. Thus, there is no significant contribution to the formation of afterimages beyond the sites mediating MIB. (shrink)
We argue that the current known anatomy of connections between the intralaminar nuclei of the thalmus and visual cortical areas makes it unlikely that neuronal activity in the ILN mediates visual awareness.
What is the relationship between a visual percept and the underlying neuronal activity in parts of the brain? This manifesto reviews the theoretical framework of Crick and Kochfor answering these questions based on the neuroanatomy and physiology of mammalian cortex and associated subcortical structures. This evidence suggests that primates are not directly aware of neural activity in primary visual cortex, although they may be aware of such activity in extrastriate cortical areas. Psychophysical evidence in humans supporting this hypothesis is discussed.