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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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Contours and surfaces: Why visual consciousness is “superficial”

Contours and surfaces: Why visual consciousness is “superficial”

(p.61) Chapter 4 Contours and surfaces: Why visual consciousness is “superficial”
The Visual (Un)Conscious and Its (Dis)Contents

Bruno G. Breitmeyer

Oxford University Press

Visual consciousness of scenes and objects depends on the conscious registration of surface properties such as color. In that sense, visual consciousness is “superficial.” The contours of an object appear to be processed at unconscious levels before its surface features. Moreover, the ventral cortical stream of processing contains separate subpathways, one for the processing of an object’s form and contours, and the other for its surface properties. Their existence allows one to study the involvement of their spatiotemporal dynamics in unconscious as well as conscious processing. While form features are processed before surface features at unconscious levels, at conscious levels surface properties must be processed before form is perceived. These properties have implications for understanding how feedforward and reentrant neural processing may relate to unconscious and conscious vision respectively, for understanding brain-imaging research, for the ontological status of microconsciousnesses, and for feature integration giving rise to object recognition.

Keywords:   surface processing, contour processing, form processing, color, microconsciousness, feature integration

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