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Blinded by the load: attention, awareness and the role of perceptual load.

Lavie, N; Beck, DM; Konstantinou, N; (2014) Blinded by the load: attention, awareness and the role of perceptual load. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci , 369 (1641) , Article 20130205. 10.1098/rstb.2013.0205. Green open access

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Abstract

What is the relationship between attention and conscious awareness? Awareness sometimes appears to be restricted to the contents of focused attention, yet at other times irrelevant distractors will dominate awareness. This contradictory relationship has also been reflected in an abundance of discrepant research findings leading to an enduring controversy in cognitive psychology. Lavie's load theory of attention suggests that the puzzle can be solved by considering the role of perceptual load. Although distractors will intrude upon awareness in conditions of low load, awareness will be restricted to the content of focused attention when the attended information involves high perceptual load. Here, we review recent evidence for this proposal with an emphasis on the various subjective blindness phenomena, and their neural correlates, induced by conditions of high perceptual load. We also present novel findings that clarify the role of attention in the response to stimulus contrast. Overall, this article demonstrates a critical role for perceptual load across the spectrum of perceptual processes leading to awareness, from the very early sensory responses related to contrast detection to explicit recognition of semantic content.

Type: Article
Title: Blinded by the load: attention, awareness and the role of perceptual load.
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0205
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0205
Language: English
Additional information: © 2014 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: attention, change blindness, conscious visual awareness, contrast response function, inattentional blindness, perceptual load
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1425376
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