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date: 18 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

How can the role of conscious attention in knowledge and action be investigated? Empirical studies move seamlessly back and forth between the level of the subject’s relation to the external environment (e.g., to the screen she is attending), and the level of the subject’s neural processing. We find conscious attention at the level of the subject’s relation to the environment, but its structure can be probed by looking at how its characteristics are explained by the underlying brain processing. In particular, we can can look at the causal structure of the subject’s use of various properties in a display to select targets whose characteristics are visually accessed. This is a matter of the subject’s experience of an external scene. It makes little sense to think of the sensory experience here in terms of ‘qualia’. An understanding of the philosophical significance of empirical work on conscious attention requires us to think of conscious attention as a relation between the subject and the scene perceived.

Keywords: visual attention, visual experience, consciousness, Boolean Map Theory, selection, transparency, Binding Problem, J. L. Austin, mental paint

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