Visuo-spatial consciousness and parieto-occipital areas: A high-resolution EEG study

Claudio Babiloni, Fabrizio Vecchio, Maurizio Miriello, Gian Luca Romani, Paolo Maria Rossini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conscious and unconscious visuo-spatial processes are mainly related to parieto-occipital cortical activation. In this study, the working hypothesis was that a specific pattern of parieto-occipital activation is induced by conscious, as opposed to unconscious, visuo-spatial processes. Electroencephalographic data (128 channels) were recorded in 12 normal adults during a visuo-spatial task. A cue stimulus appeared on the right or the left (equal probability) monitor side for a 'threshold time' inducing ∼50% of correct recognitions. It was followed (after 2 s) by visual go stimuli at spatially congruent or incongruent positions with reference to the cue location. The left (right) mouse button was clicked if the go stimulus appeared on the left (right) monitor side. Subjects were required to say 'seen' if they had detected the cue stimulus or 'not seen' if they missed it (self-report). 'Seen' and 'not seen' electroencephalographic trials were averaged separately to form visual evoked potentials. Sources of these potentials were estimated by LORETA software. Reaction time to go stimuli was shorter during spatially congruent than incongruent 'seen' trials, possibly due to covert attention on cue for self-report. It was also shorter during spatially congruent than incongruent 'not seen' trials, as an objective sign of unconscious processes. Cue stimulus evoked parieto-occipital potentials which has the same peak latencies in the 'seen' and 'not seen' cases. Sources of these potentials were located in occipital area 19 and parietal area 7. Source strength was significantly stronger in 'seen' than 'not seen' cases at ∼+300 ms post-stimulus. These results may unveil features of parieto-occipital activation accompanying visuo-spatial consciousness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


  • Awareness
  • Human cortex
  • Subliminal stimuli
  • Visual evoked potentials (VEPs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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