Spatial attention speeds discrimination without awareness in blindsight.
Kentridge RW., Heywood CA., Weiskrantz L.
An intimate relationship is often assumed between visual attention and visual awareness. Using a subject, patient GY, with the neurological condition of "blindsight" we show that although attention may be a necessary precursor to visual awareness it is not a sufficient one. Using a Posner endogenous spatial cueing paradigm we showed that the time our subject needed to discriminate the orientation of a stimulus was reduced if he was cued to the location of the stimulus. This reaction-time advantage was obtained without any decrease in discrimination accuracy and cannot therefore be attributed to speed-error trade-off or differences in bias between cued and uncued locations. As a result of his condition GY was not aware of the stimuli to which processing was attentionally facilitated. Attention cannot, therefore be a sufficient condition for awareness.