Fleeting perceptual experience and the possibility of recalling without seeing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • William Jones
  • Hannah Pincham
  • Ellis Luise Gootjes-Dreesbach
  • Howard Bowman

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Kent
  • South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
  • Point Estimate Limited


We explore an intensely debated problem in neuroscience, psychology and philosophy: the degree to which the “phenomenological consciousness” of the experience of a stimulus is separable from the “access consciousness” of its reportability. Specifically, it has been proposed that these two measures are dissociated from one another in one, or both directions. However, even if it was agreed that reportability and experience were doubly dissociated, the limits of dissociation logic mean we would not be able to conclusively separate the cognitive processes underlying the two. We take advantage of computational modelling and recent advances in state-trace analysis to assess this dissociation in an attentional/experiential blink paradigm. These advances in state-trace analysis make use of Bayesian statistics to quantify the evidence for and against a dissociation. Further evidence is obtained by linking our finding to a prominent model of the attentional blink – the Simultaneous Type/Serial Token model. Our results show evidence for a dissociation between experience and reportability, whereby participants appear able to encode stimuli into working memory with little, if any, conscious experience of them. This raises the possibility of a phenomenon that might be called sight-blind recall, which we discuss in the context of the current experience/reportability debate.


Original languageEnglish
Article number8540
Number of pages19
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2020


  • Conscious perception, experiential blink, simultaneous type/ serial token model, EEG