Sexual orientation and unconscious vision
December 10, 2013
by Laurence Georgin
I am Nick Hedger, a second year PhD student (I got my BSc and MSc here) at the Center for Vision and Cognition, Psychology. I am co-supervised by Dr Wendy Adams (Center for Vision and Cognition, Psychology) and Dr Matthew Garner (Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Medicine) and I will be collecting data with Stuart Hyde (MSc student). One of our research projects is focused on how our visual system prioritizes biologically relevant stimuli (stimuli that signal potential threat or reward). In particular, we are interested in the extent to which this prioritization occurs in the absence of conscious awareness. To investigate these questions, we use a range of physiological and psychophysical techniques.
The current project focuses on the processing of one class of salient stimuli- erotic images, which are prioritized by human vision as they are symbolic of reproductive success. We will be using a novel technique called continuous flash suppression (www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v8/n8/full/nn1500.html), which consists of presenting dynamic noise to one eye to prevent conscious perception of stimuli presented to the other. Using this technique, we aim to assess the extent to which unconsciously presented erotic images elicit behavioral (attention) and physiological (skin conductance) responses. Another key aim is to establish whether sexual orientation modulates these unconscious responses. To fulfill this latter aim, we hope to recruit participants via the LGBT network.
Here is a link to Dr Adam’s vision lab (includes recent papers and abstracts): www.personal.soton.ac.uk/erich/VisionLabs/Home.html
Center for Vision and Cognition page: www.southampton.ac.uk/psychology/research/groups/centre_for_vision_and_cognition.page#overview