Probing Unconscious Visual Processing with the McCollough Effect Academic Article uri icon


  • The McCollough effect, an orientation-contingent color aftereffect, has been known for over 30 years and, like other aftereffects, has been taken as a means of probing the brain's operations psychophysically. In this paper, we review psychophysical, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging studies of the McCollough effect. Much of the evidence suggests that the McCollough effect depends on neural mechanisms that are located early in the cortical visual pathways, probably in V1. We also review evidence showing that the aftereffect can be induced without conscious perception of the induction patterns. Based on these two lines of evidence, it is argued that our conscious visual experience of the world arises in the cortical visual system beyond V1.

publication date

  • September 1998