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Blindsight in normal observers


SOME patients with lesions in visual cortex lack conscious visual experience but, when tested, exhibit a significant ability, termed 'blindsight', to discriminate visual stimuli1–3,27. Here we report two different visual displays that induce blindsight in normal observers. Using an objective measure, we show that conscious experience remains defective at presentation times much longer (1 s) than the onset of visual sensitivity (˜60 ms). To obtain this effect, we generate a contrast between visual textures and then conceal the contrast by superimposing 'complementary' textures. Complementarity can involve either opposite motion or binocular rivalry and orthogonal orientation. In both cases, observers locate the texture contrast reliably but do not, by either subjective or objective measures, consciously experience it. Taken together with present knowledge of the visual cortical site(s) at which opposite motion and rivalrous orientation interact4–7, this observation bears upon the functional anatomy of conscious visual experience.

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Kolb, F., Braun, J. Blindsight in normal observers. Nature 377, 336–338 (1995).

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