The attentional requirements of consciousness

Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 Aug;16(8):411-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2012.06.013. Epub 2012 Jul 12.


It has been widely claimed that attention and awareness are doubly dissociable and that there is no causal relation between them. In support of this view are numerous claims of attention without awareness, and awareness without attention. Although there is evidence that attention can operate on or be drawn to unconscious stimuli, various recent findings demonstrate that there is no empirical support for awareness without attention. To properly test for awareness without attention, we propose that a stimulus be studied using a battery of tests based on diverse, mainstream paradigms from the current attention literature. When this type of analysis is performed, the evidence is fully consistent with a model in which attention is necessary, but not sufficient, for awareness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Visual Perception