The Role of Conscious Perception in Attentional Capture and Object-File Updating

Dominique Lamy*, Limor Alon, Tomer Carmel, Nir Shalev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


A mental process that is independent of conscious perception should run equally well with or without it. Previous investigations of unconscious processing have seldom included this comparison: They typically demonstrated only processing without conscious perception. In the research reported here, we showed that attentional capture is largely independent of conscious perception and that updating the episodic information stored about an object is entirely contingent on conscious perception. We used a spatial-cuing paradigm, in which the cue was a color-singleton distractor rendered liminal by continuous flash suppression or brief exposure. When the cue matched the participant’s attentional set, it strongly captured attention whether it was subliminal or consciously perceived. In contrast, a nonmatching cue did not capture attention but instead produced a same-location cost, which was contingent on consciously perceiving the cue. Our findings demonstrate a dissociation between attention and conscious perception and unveil an important boundary condition of object-file updating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-57
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Jan 2015


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1475/12


    • attentional capture
    • object files
    • selective attention


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