Pascal Ludwig: Attention, consciousness, and priority maps

Pascal Ludwig, Université Paris IV Paris-Sorbonne


Title: «Attention, consciousness, and priority maps».


Abstract: The ongoing debate about whether or not attention is a necessary condition for consciousness has focused on one experimental paradigm, namely partial report, and on encoding into working memory. Ned Block’s influential overflow argument thus concludes that some conscious sensory representations are pre-attentive from the premise that these representations are not WM encoded. In this paper, I will argue that some conscious perceptual processes rely on visual attention even though they do not presuppose working memory encoding. 

Here is a sketch of the argument I will put forward: 1) many conscious visual perceptions are guided by visual attention 2) the visual representations involved in the guidance process are probably not encoded into visual working memory, despite the fact that they are modulated by attention, but are rather represented on priority maps; hence: there are some forms of attention that might be essentially involved into conscious perception, but that do not entail working memory encoding. I will then draw some conclusions about the relations between attention and consciousness.