Perceptual integration without conscious access

Johannes J. Fahrenfort*, Jonathan Van Leeuwen, Christian N.L. Olivers, Hinze Hogendoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The visual system has the remarkable ability to integrate fragmentary visual input into a perceptually organized collection of surfaces and objects, a process we refer to as perceptual integration. Despite a long tradition of perception research, it is not known whether access to consciousness is required to complete perceptual integration. To investigate this question, we manipulated access to consciousness using the attentional blink. We show that, behaviorally, the attentional blink impairs conscious decisions about the presence of integrated surface structure fromfragmented input. However, despite conscious access being impaired, the ability to decode the presence of integrated percepts remains intact, as shown through multivariate classification analyses of electroencephalogram (EEG) data. In contrast, when disrupting perception through masking, decisions about integrated percepts and decoding of integrated percepts are impaired in tandem, while leaving feedforward representations intact. Together, these data show that access consciousness and perceptual integration can be dissociated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3744-3749
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Access consciousness
  • Attentional blink
  • Masking
  • Perceptual integration
  • Phenomenal consciousness


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