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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Anna Grubert

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

Author(s) from Durham


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.