EarthSky // Human World, Science Wire Release Date: Nov 13, 2013

Our brains process visual input that we never consciously perceive. A study challenges currently accepted models about how the brain processes visual information.

University of Arizona doctoral degree candidate Jay Sanguinetti has authored a new study, published online in the journal Psychological Science, that indicates that the brain processes and understands visusal input that we may never consciously perceive.

The finding challenges currently accepted models about how the brain processes visual information.

A doctoral candidate in the UA’s Department of Psychology in the College of Science, Sanguinetti showed study participants a series of black silhouettes, some of which contained meaningful, real-world objects hidden in the white spaces on the outsides.

EEG-scan-cap

Davi Vitela dons the cap used to take EEG scans of her brain activity while she views a series of images in Sanguinetti’s study. Photo by Patrick McArdle/UANews

Saguinetti worked with his adviser Mary Peterson, a professor of psychology and director of the UA’s Cognitive Science Program, and with John Allen, a UA Distinguished Professor of psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience, to monitor subjects’ brainwaves with an electroencephalogram, or EEG, while they viewed the objects.

“We were asking the question of whether the brain was processing the meaning of the objects that are on the outside of these silhouettes,” Sanguinetti said. “The specific question was, ‘Does the brain process those hidden shapes to the level of meaning, even when the subject doesn’t consciously see them?”

The answer, Sanguinetti’s data indicates, is yes.

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