Attention and consciousness.
For the past three decades there has been a substantial amount of scientific evidence supporting the view that attention is necessary and sufficient for perceptual representations to become conscious (i.e., for there to be something that it is like to experience a representational perceptual state). This view, however, has been recently questioned on the basis of some alleged counterevidence. In this paper we survey some of the most important recent findings. In doing so, we have two primary goals. The first is descriptive: we provide a literature review for those seeking an understanding of the present debate. The second is editorial: we suggest that the evidence alleging dissociations between consciousness and attention is not decisive. Thus, this is an opinionated overview of the debate. By presenting our assessment, we hope to bring out both sides in the debate and to underscore that the issues here remain matters of intense controversy and ongoing investigation. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
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