- A direct oculomotor correlate of unconscious visual processing
- Current Biology
- Volume | Issue number
- 22 | 13
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Intuitively, it would seem that we need to be aware of an object to locate it in our visual environment. Occasionally, however, we experience our actions as guided by the unconscious use of visual information. For example, most tennis players would agree that they sometimes hit a ball without even having seen it. Can we thus locate visual information without awareness? It may appear straightforward to adopt subjects' reports about their conscious experience as the benchmark for visual awareness: a dissociation between awareness and the ability to locate a stimulus would be demonstrated when subjects deny seeing the stimulus while correctly guessing its location. This approach, however, suffers from potential response biases: Subjects may claim not to see a stimulus despite being partially or even fully aware of it . We report that observers are biased to look at stimuli even when objectively unaware of them; that is, even when at chance level in guessing stimulus location. This demonstrates that the human visual system can control goal-directed oculomotor behavior towards invisible stimuli in the objective absence of awareness.
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