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Awareness is related to reduced post-stimulus alpha power: a no-report inattentional blindness study

Harris, AM; Dux, PE; Mattingley, JB; (2018) Awareness is related to reduced post-stimulus alpha power: a no-report inattentional blindness study. European Journal of Neuroscience 10.1111/ejn.13947. (In press).

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Delineating the neural correlates of sensory awareness is a key requirement for developing a neuroscientific understanding of consciousness. A neural signal that has been proposed as a key neural correlate of awareness is amplitude reduction of 8-14 Hz alpha oscillations. Alpha oscillations are also closely linked to processes of spatial attention, providing potential alternative explanations for past results associating alpha oscillations with awareness. We employed a no-report inattentional blindness (IB) paradigm with electroencephalography to examine the association between awareness and the power of 8-14 Hz alpha oscillations. We asked whether the alpha-power decrease commonly reported when stimuli are perceived is related to awareness, or other factors that commonly confound awareness investigations, specifically task-relevance and visual salience. Two groups of participants performed a target discrimination task at fixation while irrelevant non-salient shape probes were presented briefly in the left or right visual field. One group was explicitly informed of the peripheral probes at the commencement of the experiment (the control group), whereas the other was not told about the probes until halfway through the experiment (IB group). Consequently, the IB group remained unaware of the probes for the first half of the experiment. In all conditions in which participants were aware of the probes, there was an enhanced negativity in the event-related potential (the visual awareness negativity). Furthermore, there was an extended contralateral alpha-power decrease when the probes were perceived, which was not present when they failed to reach awareness. These results suggest alpha oscillations are intrinsically associated with awareness itself.

Type: Article
Title: Awareness is related to reduced post-stimulus alpha power: a no-report inattentional blindness study
Location: France
DOI: 10.1111/ejn.13947
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13947
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: alpha oscillations, attention, awareness, neural oscillations, visual awareness negativity
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10056117
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