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A dissociation between selective attention and conscious awareness in the representation of temporal order information.

Eimer, M. and Grubert, A. (2015) 'A dissociation between selective attention and conscious awareness in the representation of temporal order information.', Consciousness and cognition., 35 . pp. 274-281.


Previous electrophysiological studies have shown that attentional selection processes are highly sensitive to the temporal order of task-relevant visual events. When two successively presented colour-defined target stimuli are separated by a stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) of only 10 ms, the onset latencies of N2pc components to these stimuli (which reflect their attentional selection) precisely match their objective temporal separation. We tested whether such small onset differences are accessible to conscious awareness by instructing participants to report the category (letter or digit) of the first of two target-colour items that were separated by an SOA of 10, 20, or 30 ms. Performance was at chance level for the 10 ms SOA, demonstrating that temporal order information which is available to attentional control processes cannot be utilized for conscious temporal order judgments. These results provide new evidence that selective attention and conscious awareness are functionally separable, and support the hypothesis that attention and awareness operate at different stages of cognitive processing.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Consciousness and Cognition. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Consciousness and Cognition, 35, September 2015, 274-281, 10.1016/j.concog.2015.01.001.
Date accepted:05 January 2015
Date deposited:19 January 2017
Date of first online publication:22 January 2015
Date first made open access:No date available

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