No iconic memory without attention

Conscious Cogn. 2016 Feb;40:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.12.006. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


The experiments reported extend the findings of our earlier paper, (Mack, Erol, & Clarke, 2015) and allow us to reject Bachmann and Aru's critique of our conclusion (2015) that IM requires attention. They suggested our manipulations, which diverted attention from a letter reporting task in a dual task procedure where the task-cue occurred after the array disappeared, might only have affected access to IM and not the "existence of the phenomenal experience". By further decreasing the probability of reporting letters to only 10% and adding a final trial in which the letter matrix was either completely absent or distorted, we found more than half our subjects were unaware of its absence, or distortion i.e., were inattentionally blind. We take this as powerful evidence against the existence of any phenomenal experience component of iconic memory and consistent with the view that iconic memory demands attention and that conscious perception does as well.

Keywords: Attention; Awareness; Iconic memory; Inattentional blindness; Phenomenal consciousness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Young Adult