In press: Oculomotor freezing indicates conscious detection free of decision bias

The same visual stimulus can sometimes reach awareness, while other times it does not. To understand why, we need objective, bias-free measures of awareness. We had previously discovered that a reflexive freezing of small eye movements indicates when an observer detects a stimulus (see White & Rolfs, 2016). In a new set of experiments that is now accepted for publication in the Journal of Neurophysiology we now biased observers’ decisions to report seeing the stimulus. Despite large changes in observers’ response behavior, the oculomotor response was unaltered. This suggests that the threshold for conscious perception is independent of the decision criterion and is revealed by oculomotor freezing.

This project was a collaboration with our former postdoc Alex White (now Assistant professor at Barnard College, Columbia University) and Kit Moreland. This was back in 2017 (both were still at University of Washington), right after ECVP 2017 in Berlin. Good things often need time to mature.

Graphical abstract.

White, A.L., Moreland, J., & Rolfs, M. (2022). Oculomotor freezing indicates conscious detection free of decision bias. Journal of Neurophysiology, in press. [preprint]