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The Visual (Un)Conscious and Its (Dis)ContentsA microtemporal approach$
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Bruno G. Breitmeyer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198712237

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712237.001.0001

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(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction
The Visual (Un)Conscious and Its (Dis)Contents

Bruno G. Breitmeyer

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with consciousness as a state that can be distinguished from consciousness as a trait of visuocognitive contents. Arousal of the cortical brain, arising from subcortical reticular and thalamic structures, is a necessary condition for a conscious state. Contents that are conscious can be distinguished from those that are unconscious. Insofar as perception is the registration of sensory input in consciousness, neural processing correlated with the former is percept dependent, whereas that correlated with the latter is stimulus dependent. Both types of processing occur along parallel and interactive pathways, the two most prominent of which are the cortical dorsal stream, which receives input primarily from magnocellular neurons, and the cortical ventral stream, which receives input primarily from parvocellular neurons. While the dorsal and ventral pathways tend to associate with unconscious and conscious processing respectively, the input of the dorsal-pathway appears to be necessary for some conscious visual contents.

Keywords:   state and trait consciousness, perception, dorsal cortical stream, ventral cortical stream

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