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Fragile Memories for Fleeting Percepts

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Louise White.

We will have a Tea and coffee informal gathering from 1pm to 1.30pm and the talk will start at 130.pm followed by questions and discussion at 230pm.

The Simultaneous Type/ Serial Token (STST) model of temporal attention and working memory (Bowman & Wyble, 2007) was published over 10 years ago as a theory of the attentional blink and associated phenomena. In the intervening period, the scope of the theory has grown, becoming a theory of the episodic nature of attention and perception (Wyble et al, 2011). Recently, we have also been considering the implications of the STST model for theories of conscious perception. If one interprets the neural network model that implements the STST theory literally, it makes two particular predictions for conscious experience: 1) that we can pre-consciously search our sensory environments for salient stimuli (type-information); and 2) that we cannot pre-consciously search our sensory environment on the basis of episodic information (token-information). The latter of these fits well with theories of conscious perception based upon event individuation (Kanwisher, 2001). Using rapid serial visual presentation, I will report a series of EEG (Bowman et al, 2014) and behavioural (Aviles et al, 2020) experiments that provide evidence in support of these two predictions. These experiments focus on the fragility, even absence, of memory for fleetingly presented stimuli. We argue that these findings provide support for a theory we call the tokenised percept hypothesis.

Avilés, A., Bowman, H., & Wyble, B. (2020). On the limits of evidence accumulation of the preconscious percept. Cognition, 195, 104080.

Bowman, H., & Wyble, B. (2007). The simultaneous type, serial token model of temporal attention and working memory. Psychological review, 114(1), 38.

Bowman, H., Filetti, M., Alsufyani, A., Janssen, D., & Su, L. (2014). Countering countermeasures: detecting identity lies by detecting conscious breakthrough. PloS one, 9(3).

Kanwisher, N. (2001). Neural events and perceptual awareness. Cognition, 79(1-2), 89-113. Wyble, B., Potter, M. C., Bowman, H., & Nieuwenstein, M. (2011). Attentional episodes in visual perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 140(3), 488.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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