Event Abstract

Attention, awareness and control

  • 1 CNRS, France

Attention has long been considered to be the organizing function that brings relevant information to the forefront of our conscious mind. This in turn enables us to control our actions, according to our internal goals. Attention, awareness and control therefore appear to be tightly related: an attended stimulus reaches awareness, subsequently leading to a decision whether or not to act. The objective of this symposium is to illustrate the growing experimental evidence that challenges this view. First, there is a now a strong body of behavioral evidence both in patients and normal subjects showing that attention can operate on, and be triggered by, unconsciously processed stimuli (Bob Kentridge). Second, a double dissociation at the neural level between attentional amplification and awareness-related activity has repeatedly been observed in MEG recordings (Catherine Tallon-Baudry). Third, fMRI data show that responses to unconsciously processed stimuli are controlled by top-down influences (Sid Kouider). Fourth, behavioral studies in normal subjects and patients with micro-lesions of premotor regions reveal that sensory events can trigger unconscious motor plans, which can in turn be controlled in an unconscious manner (Petroc Sumner). Altogether, these results raise the intriguing possibility that subjective experience of external stimuli and of endogenous processes can be disconnected from attention and control, and conversely, that attention and control can be triggered in an automatic manner, outside the focus of conscious perception and volition.

Keywords: Attention, fMRI, MEG

Conference: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI), Palma, Mallorca, Spain, 25 Sep - 29 Sep, 2011.

Presentation Type: Introduction

Topic: Symposium 4: Attention, awareness and control

Citation: Tallon-Baudry C (2011). Attention, awareness and control. Conference Abstract: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI). doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2011.207.00025

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Received: 09 Nov 2011; Published Online: 15 Nov 2011.

* Correspondence: Dr. Catherine Tallon-Baudry, CNRS, Paris, France, catherine.tallon-baudry@ens.fr

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