Non-conscious recognition of affect in the absence of striate cortex

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FUNCTIONAL neuroimaging experiments have shown that recognition of emotional expressions does not depend on awareness of visual stimuli and that unseen fear stimuli can activate the amygdala via a colliculopulvinar pathway. Perception of emotional expressions in the absence of awareness in normal subjects has some similarities with the unconscious recognition of visual stimuli which is well documented in patients with striate cortex lesions (blindsight). Presumably in these patients residual vision engages alternative extra-striate routes such as the superior colliculus and pulvinar. Against this background, we conjectured that a blind-sight subject (GY) might recognize facial expressions presented in his blind field. The present study now provides direct evidence for this claim.

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