Spatial attention and two modes of visual consciousness

Syoichi Iwasaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between spatial attention and visual consciousness was critically examined in an attempt to show the operation of two simultaneously available modes of visual consciousness (i.e., object consciousness, which concerns the conscious identification of objects, and background consciousness, which deals with conscious monitoring of the background scene). The traditional view seems to pay attention only to object consciousness, which is a product of spatial attention. To substantiate the hypothesis, five topics from varied fields of human experimental psychology were chosen: iconic storage, stabilized retinal image disappearance, stable perception of external space, texture segregation and attention, and spatial frequency sensitivity in a figure-ground reversal figure. The findings of these studies suggest that there may be visual consciousness outside of focal attention and that background consciousness operates as a default mode for global scene analysis and early warning of anomalies. Finally, neural substrata for these two modes of consciousness are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-233
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1993 Dec
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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