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Sensing and seeing associated with overlapping occipitoparietal activation in simultaneous EEG-fMRI.

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Scrivener, Catriona L  ORCID logo
Lindner, Michael 


The presence of a change in a visual scene can influence brain activity and behavior, even in the absence of full conscious report. It may be possible for us to sense that such a change has occurred, even if we cannot specify exactly where or what it was. Despite existing evidence from electroencephalogram (EEG) and eye-tracking data, it is still unclear how this partial level of awareness relates to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) activation. Using EEG, fMRI, and a change blindness paradigm, we found multi-modal evidence to suggest that sensing a change is distinguishable from being blind to it. Specifically, trials during which participants could detect the presence of a colour change but not identify the location of the change (sense trials), were compared to those where participants could both detect and localise the change (localise or see trials), as well as change blind trials. In EEG, late parietal positivity and N2 amplitudes were larger for localised changes only, when compared to change blindness. However, ERP-informed fMRI analysis found no voxels with activation that significantly co-varied with fluctuations in single-trial late positivity amplitudes. In fMRI, a range of visual (BA17,18), parietal (BA7,40), and mid-brain (anterior cingulate, BA24) areas showed increased fMRI BOLD activation when a change was sensed, compared to change blindness. These visual and parietal areas are commonly implicated as the storage sites of visual working memory, and we therefore argue that sensing may not be explained by a lack of stored representation of the visual display. Both seeing and sensing a change were associated with an overlapping occipitoparietal network of activation when compared to blind trials, suggesting that the quality of the visual representation, rather than the lack of one, may result in partial awareness during the change blindness paradigm.



Conscious Awareness, Change Blindness, Sensing, Eeg-fmri

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Neuroscience of consciousness

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