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Learning to see consciously
Date:3/9/2011

ses, however, conscious perception of the stimuli could be improved with training. Is it maybe possible to learn to "see consciously"?

To investigate this question in healthy subjects, the Frankfurt scientists developed an experimental set up with which different learning effects on perception could be measured. The subjects were shown images of two different geometric forms a square and a diamond on a screen in rapid succession and in a random sequence, and were asked to discriminate between them. The visibility of the images was limited by presenting a mask shortly after each image, which rendered the shape invisible.

The experiment was designed such that the subjects could initially not discriminate between the images and that they were also subjectively invisible. The subjects were then trained for several days. Each round of the training involved the presentation of images followed by the mask. As soon as the subject indicated by pressing a button which form had been shown and how clearly he or she had seen the form, the next stimulus and the next mask were shown. This process was repeated 600 times per day. After several days, the subjects could better discriminate between the target stimuli. From the ratings of the visibility of the stimuli, the scientists could further conclude that the participants' subjective perception had increased as well: the images now entered consciousness. Thus, the scientists succeeded in demonstrating that it is also possible to learn to see consciously.

The question remained, however, as to how objective and not necessarily conscious processing of stimuli and their subjective, conscious perception are linked. To gain a better understanding of the individual processing steps and to localize them in the brain, the experiment was repeated once more. This time, the image and mask were shown on a different part of the screen, and were thus processed by a different part of the brain. "The results were rev
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Contact: Lucia Melloni
lucia.melloni@brain.mpg.de
49-699-676-9268
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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