Neuroscientific Evidence for Processing Without Awareness

Liad Mudrik, Leon Y. Deouell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The extent to which we are affected by perceptual input of which we are unaware is widely debated. By measuring neural responses to sensory stimulation, neuroscientific data could complement behavioral results with valuable evidence. Here we review neuroscientific findings of processing of high-level information, as well as interactions with attention and memory. Although the results are mixed, we find initial support for processing object categories and words, possibly to the semantic level, as well as emotional expressions. Robust neural evidence for face individuation and integration of sentences or scenes is lacking. Attention affects the processing of stimuli that are not consciously perceived, and such stimuli may exogenously but not endogenously capture attention when relevant, and be maintained in memory over time. Sources of inconsistency in the literature include variability in control for awareness as well as individual differences, calling for future studies that adopt stricter measures of awareness and probe multiple processes within subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-423
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Neuroscience
Volume45
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • EEG/MEG
  • fMRI
  • intracranial recordings
  • processing without awareness
  • subliminal
  • TMS

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