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Consciousness Versus Attention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333 - 340
Number of pages8
JournalCognitive Computation
Issue number2
PublishedJun 2011

King's Authors


We consider paradigms attempting to prove that attention and consciousness are independent. As part of the analysis, we introduce the notion of the 'Creativity Effects', which allow for a more precise analysis of the interaction between conscious/attended processing and that of which there is no consciousness. Two such effects are considered, one at a high level, which allows filling in from memory of apparently stimulus-free activity when noisy stimuli are unattended. This leads to increased confidence but also increased error rate. The other is at a lower cortical level, involving as it does increasing the size of relevant neuron receptive fields by removing attention; subsequent attended processing can then lead to increased accuracy in detecting noisy stimuli. These effects are applied to certain experiments [1-3] to explain how apparently attention-free awareness arises through a process in which attention actually plays a crucial role. It also shows that at least in these experiments, consciousness and attention are not independent (as has been claimed in [4, 5] and numerous other places).

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