Roeber, U., Widmann, A., Trujillo-Barreto, N. J., Herrmann, C. S., O'Shea, R. P., & Schröger, E. (2008). Early correlates of visual awareness in the human brain: time and place from event-related brain potentials. Journal of Vision, 8(3, 21), 1-12.

Early correlates of visual awareness in the human brain: time and place from event-related brain potentials

When something appears, how soon is the first neural correlate of awareness of it, and where is that activity in the brain? To answer these questions, we measured the electroencephalogram under conditions in which visual stimuli changed identically but in which awareness differed. We manipulated awareness by using binocular rivalry between orthogonal gratings viewed one to each eye. Then we changed the orientation of the grating to one eye to be the same as that to the other eye. Because of the rivalry, sometimes this happened to the visible grating, producing a clear change in perceived orientation, and other times it happened to the invisible grating, producing no change in perceived orientation. This procedure allowed us to analyze time-locked topographic scalp and tomographic primary current densities of the event-related potentials to physically identical events differing in their perceptual consequences. When the change in orientation reached awareness, neural responses began at about 100 ms, spreading mainly from dorsal occipital areas. When the change in orientation did not reach awareness, neural responses also began at about 100 ms, but they were attenuated, particularly in the right fusiform gyrus. We place the earliest correlate of visual awareness following binocular rivalry in the ventrolateral occipitotemporal cortex.


Cognitive and Biological Psychology

University of Leipzig
Faculty of Biosciences, Pharmacy and Psychology
Institute of Psychology
Neumarkt 9-19
D-04109 Leipzig


Dagmar Schrödl
Phone: +49 341 97-39570
Email: dagmar dot schroedl at uni-leipzig dot de

Dorit Thieme
Phone: +49 341 97-39540
Email: d dot thieme at uni-leipzig dot de

Fax: +49 341 97-39271