Opposing effects of attention and consciousness on afterimages

Jeroen J.A. Van Boxtel, Naotsugu Tsuchiya, Christof Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


The brain's ability to handle sensory information is influenced by both selective attention and consciousness. There is no consensus on the exact relationship between these two processes andwhether they are distinct. So far, no experiment has simultaneously manipulated both. We carried out a full factorial 2 x 2 study of the simultaneous influences of attention and consciousness (as assayed by visibility) on perception, correcting for possible concurrent changes in attention and consciousness. We investigated the duration of afterimages for all four combinations of high versus low attention and visible versus invisible. We show that selective attention and visual consciousness have opposite effects: paying attention to the gratingdecreases theduration of its afterimage,whereas consciously seeing the grating increases the afterimage duration. These findings provide clear evidence for distinctive influences of selective attention and consciousness on visual perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8883-8888
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2010
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Opposing effects of attention and consciousness on afterimages'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this