The SSVEP tracks attention, not consciousness, during perceptual filling-in

  1. Matthew J Davidson  Is a corresponding author
  2. Will Mithen
  3. Hinze Hogendoorn
  4. Jeroen JA van Boxtel
  5. Naotsugu Tsuchiya
  1. Oxford University, Australia
  2. Monash University, Australia
  3. University of Melbourne, Australia
  4. University of Canberra, Australia

Abstract

Research on the neural basis of conscious perception has almost exclusively shown that becoming aware of a stimulus leads to increased neural responses. By designing a novel form of perceptual filling-in (PFI) overlaid with a dynamic texture display, we frequency-tagged multiple disappearing targets as well as their surroundings. We show that in a PFI paradigm the disappearance of a stimulus and subjective invisibility are associated with increases in neural activity, as measured with steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEP), in electroencephalography (EEG). We also find that this increase correlates with alpha-band activity, a well-established neural measure of attention. These findings cast doubt on the direct relationship previously reported between the strength of neural activity and conscious perception, at least when measured with current tools, such as the SSVEP. Instead we conclude that SSVEP strength more closely measures changes in attention.

Data availability

All data and analysis code has been made available in a repository on the open science framework.

The following data sets were generated
    1. Davidson M
    (2019) Multitarget PFI - BCI
    Open Science Framework, OSF.IO/HS7FN.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Matthew J Davidson

    Experimental Psychology, Oxford University, Oxford, Australia
    For correspondence
    mjd070@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2088-040X
  2. Will Mithen

    School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Hinze Hogendoorn

    Psychology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Jeroen JA van Boxtel

    Discipline of Psychology, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2643-0474
  5. Naotsugu Tsuchiya

    School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-4216-8701

Funding

ARC (FT120100619)

  • Naotsugu Tsuchiya

ARC (DP130100194)

  • Naotsugu Tsuchiya

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: Ethics approval was obtained from the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC #CF12/2542 - 2012001375).Students at Monash University, provided written informed consent prior to taking part

Reviewing Editor

  1. Valentin Wyart, École normale supérieure, PSL University, INSERM, France

Publication history

  1. Received: June 15, 2020
  2. Accepted: November 10, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: November 10, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Accepted Manuscript updated: November 12, 2020 (version 2)
  5. Accepted Manuscript updated: November 12, 2020 (version 3)
  6. Version of Record published: November 23, 2020 (version 4)

Copyright

© 2020, Davidson et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Matthew J Davidson
  2. Will Mithen
  3. Hinze Hogendoorn
  4. Jeroen JA van Boxtel
  5. Naotsugu Tsuchiya
(2020)
The SSVEP tracks attention, not consciousness, during perceptual filling-in
eLife 9:e60031.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.60031
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