Liang Lou,  Ph.D. 

Associate Professor of Psychology, GVSU
Office: 2125 Au Sable Hall
Phone: (616) 331-2916 Email:

Research Interests

My current research interest is mainly in understanding how and to what extent voluntary attention and perceptual organization affect sensory processes. For example, it is well known that a still stimulus in peripheral vision will fade from awareness in a few seconds. This phenomenon, known as "Troxler fading", is commonly considered a "local adaptation" effect resulting from fatigues of neurons in early stages of visual information processing. I found, however, that the Troxler fading occurs faster when the peripheral stimulus is attended or perceived as part of the figure in a figure-ground organization (Lou, 1999). Similarly, negative color afterimages are known to result from the adaptation of opponent process neurons that are monocular and found at early stages of visual information processing. When a negative color afterimage consists of multiple structured components, however, each component tends to fluctuate in awareness in synch with the attention it receives (Lou, 2001). These phenomena are interesting to me because they suggest that the traditional distinctions between cognition and perception, and between perception and sensation may be unwarranted in some sense, and that conscious perception relies on a mechanism in which feed-forward and feed-back neural connections play equally important roles. I am currently conducting a series of follow-up studies for testing certain more specific hypotheses that are consistent with such theoretical outlook.

The same experimental logic has been applied to study certain related phenomena in visual perception. One such study has to do with the phenomenal filling-in of the physiological blind spot----a topic that has recently spurred the debate among psychologists and philosophers on the relationship between phenomenal consciousness and its neural correlates. In a series of controlled observations, I found that the filling-in of the blind spot depends on how close to the blind spot attention is allocated. Interestingly, focusing attention to the blind spot reduces the filling-in and broadly spreading attention around the blind spot facilitates the filling-in (Lou & Chen, 2003).

Selected Publications

Lou, L. (under review). Troxler effect with dichoptic stimulus presentations: Evidence for binocular inhibitory summation and interocular suppression. Vision Research

Lou, L. (2007). Apparent afterimage size, Emmert's law, and oculomotor adjustment. Perception, 36, 1214-1228

Lou, L., & Chen, J. (2003). Attention and blind-spot phenomenology, Psyche: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Consciousness, 9(2),

Lou, L. (2001). Effects of voluntary attention on structured afterimages. Perception, 30(12), 1439-1448

Lou, L. (1999). Selective peripheral fading: Evidence for inhibitory sensory effect of attention. Perception, 28(4), 519-526.


GVSU Home Page | Black Board  | GroupWise  Library | My Department Page

Societies and Conferences

Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness | Center for Consciousness Study | European Conference of Visual Perception |Vision Science Society | Psychonomic Society | American Psychological Society


Edge | Psyche | Journal of Vision | Perception | Science and Consciousness


National Science Foundation: Perception, Action & Cognition | Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego | Department of Psychology, University of Hong Kong | Institute of Psychology, CAS


MIT Press | Oxford University Press | Elsevier

Web Resources| PubMed | Psych Web | Neuroguide | Harnad: BBS etc.. | Vision Science | PsychToolBox | Psychtoolbox in WikiBook | Online Experimental Psychology Lab | Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology | Grand Illusions | Change Blindness | Troxler Forum

Vision Researchers

Patrick Cavanagh | James E. Cutting | Sheng He | David Leopold | Satoru Suzuki | Nicholas Wade


David Chalmers | Andy Clark | Daniel Dennett | Alva Noe


The Joy of Visual Perception | Sensation and Perception by Matlin and Foley | London Review of Books

Last updated: 01/03/2008