Repression of unconscious information by conscious processing: evidence from affective blindsight induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jul 26;102(30):10747-51. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0500834102. Epub 2005 Jul 19.


Some patients with a lesion to the primary visual cortex (V1) show "blindsight": the remarkable ability to guess correctly about attributes of stimuli presented to the blind hemifield. Here, we show that blindsight can be induced in normal observers by using transcranial magnetic stimulation of the occipital cortex but exclusively for the affective content of unseen stimuli. Surprisingly, access to the affective content of stimuli disappears upon prolonged task training or when stimulus visibility increases, allegedly increasing the subjects' confidence in their overall performance. This finding suggests that availability of conscious information suppresses access to unconscious information, supporting the idea of consciousness as a repressant of unconscious tendencies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Repression, Psychology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Unconscious, Psychology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*