Informations and abstract
The amount of perceptual information we can be potentially aware of exceeds our conscious processing ability. A selection of the scene elements is therefore necessary, following some sort of priority, warranting their conscious access. Usually, conscious experience is grounded on two basic dimensions: sufficient strength of physical properties for stimulating the perceptual system (the stimulus energy), and the amount of attentive resources assigned for processing. Here we posit the need of a more complete analysis of the factors contributing to conscious experience. We therefore introduce a third factor, defined as "information potential" of a stimulus, i.e. how much informative is the element in the scene in relationship to its context and, above all, to the perceiver. Given two stimuli with the same levels of energy and attentive resources, but with different levels of information potential, we maintain that they will get a different kind of conscious access. As a consequence, the perceptual act is causally grounded on three parameters: stimulus energy, attention and information potential.