Perceptual conscious experiences result from non-conscious processes that precede them. We document a new characteristic of the cognitive system: the speed with which visual meaningful stimuli are prioritized to consciousness over competing noise in visual masking paradigms. In ten experiments (N = 399) we find that an individual's non-conscious visual prioritization speed (NVPS) is ubiquitous across a wide variety of stimuli, and generalizes across visual masks, suppression tasks, and time. We also find that variation in NVPS is unique, in that it cannot be explained by variation in general speed, perceptual decision thresholds, short-term visual memory, or three networks of attention (alerting, orienting and executive). Finally, we find that NVPS is correlated with subjective measures of sensitivity, as they are measured by the Highly Sensitive Person scale. We conclude by discussing the implications of variance in NVPS for understanding individual variance in behavior and the neural substrates of consciousness.
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© 2021 Elsevier B.V.
- Individual differences
- Visual perception