Does attention accompany the conscious awareness of both location and identity of an object?

Shahab Ghorashi*, Lisa N. Jefferies, Jun Ichiro Kawahara, Katsumi Watanabe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The question of whether consciousness and attention are the same or different phenomena has always been controversial. In trying to find an answer to this question, two different measures for consciousness and attention were used to provide the potential for dissociating between them. Conscious awareness of either the location or the identity of the object was measured as the percentage of correct reports of that aspect. The location of the focus of attention, on the other hand, was determined using the shooting-line illusion (SLI). In the SLI, a static line is perceived as growing from the location of a preceding cue (i.e., the location of the focus of attention). To investigate whether conscious awareness of the location of an object could be dissociated from conscious awareness of its identity, the attentional blink (AB) was used. It is known that during the AB, identification of the second of two consecutively and briefly presented targets (T1 and T2) is impaired if the temporal lag between the two targets is less than about 500 ms. In three experiments, an SLI was induced during the AB to determine whether attention was at the location of T2 when the observer was consciously aware of its location, its identity, or both. Observers were instructed to report the identity and location of the targets, and the direction of the SLI. Three important findings emerged. First, the SLI was seen as growing from T2 only when T2 was identified correctly. Second, observers could report T2 location even when unaware of its identity. Third, the SLI occurred from T2 only when T2 identity – not its location – could be reported correctly. These results indicate that focal attention does not necessarily accompany conscious awareness of some aspects of the object, while it does accompany conscious awareness of its identity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsyche (Pasadena)
Issue number2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Attentional blink
  • Consciousness
  • Identification
  • Localization
  • Shooting-line illusion
  • Spatial attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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