Conscious perception of flickering stimuli SSR

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Conscious perception of flickering stimuli in binocular rivalry and continuous flash suppression is not affected by tACS-induced SSR modulation.

Conscious Cogn. 2020 May 22;82:102953

Authors: Schauer G, Ogawa CY, Tsuchiya N, Bartels A

The content of conscious perception is known to correlate with steady-state responses (SSRs), yet their causal relationship remains unclear. Can we manipulate conscious perception by directly interfering with SSRs through transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS)? Here, we directly addressed this question in three experiments involving binocular rivalry and continuous flash suppression (CFS). Specifically, while participants (N = 24) viewed either binocular rivalry or tried to detect stimuli masked by CFS, we applied sham or real tACS across parieto-occipital cortex at either the same or a different frequency and phase as an SSR eliciting flicker stimulus. We found that tACS did not differentially affect conscious perception in the forms of predominance, CFS detection accuracy, reaction time, or metacognitive sensitivity, confirmed by Bayesian statistics. We conclude that tACS application at frequencies of stimulus-induced SSRs does not have perceptual effects and that SSRs may be epiphenomenal to conscious perception.

PMID: 32450496 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]