Journal Article

Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence for fast emergence of visual consciousness

Henry Railo, Antti Revonsuo and Mika Koivisto

in Neuroscience of Consciousness

Published on behalf of Neuroscience

Volume 2015, issue 1
Published online July 2015 | e-ISSN: 2057-2107 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nc/niv004

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  • Neuroscience
  • Cognition and Behavioural Neuroscience
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  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Consciousness

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A fundamental unsettled dispute concerns how fast the brain generates subjective visual experiences. Both early visual cortical activation and later activity in fronto-parietal global neuronal workspace correlate with conscious vision, but resolving which of the correlates causally triggers conscious vision has proved a methodological impasse. We show that participants can report whether or not they consciously perceived a stimulus in just over 200 ms. These fast consciousness reports were extremely reliable, and did not include reflexive, unconscious responses. The neural events that causally generate conscious vision must have occurred before these behavioral reports. Analyses on single-trial neural correlates of consciousness revealed that the late cortical processing in fronto-parietal global neuronal workspace (∼300 ms) started after the fastest consciousness reports, ruling out the possibility that this late activity directly reflects the emergence of visual consciousness. The consciousness reports were preceded by a negative amplitude difference (∼160–220 ms) that spread from occipital to frontal cortex, suggesting that this correlate underlies the emergence of conscious vision.

Keywords: awareness; consciousness; theories and models; contents of consciousness

Journal Article.  8112 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience ; Cognition and Behavioural Neuroscience ; Neuroscientific Techniques ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Consciousness

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