Is there stimulus-driven attention without awareness?
Fintzi, Anat Rina
A long-standing debate is whether awareness is dissociable from attention. Previous work in support of a dissociation between stimulus-driven attention and awareness has used spatial-cueing paradigms. A critical review of these previous works show that they either had logical shortcomings or did not meet conditions of complete perceptual unawareness. One study, however, met all criteria for conclusive evidence of stimulus-driven attention in the absence of awareness (Mulckhuyse et al., 2007). Here, I experimentally replicated their findings. However, when parsing out the data in a cue-localization drive, an alternative explanation for their findings can be evoked without appealing to the deployment of stimulus-driven attention without awareness. Instead, it is possible that differential awareness of cues across experimental conditions may be sufficient to explain the claims of stimulus-driven attention without awareness in this prior work. Taken together with my critical review of the literature, my findings lead me to conclude that there is currently no compelling evidence that stimulus-driven attention can occur without awareness of the attention-capturing stimulus.