The area is routinely called the visual cortex

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A note for Lesson no. 2, "Your Brain Is a Network," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 37‌‌‌‌ is:

...your ability to see is so intimately tied to an area of the brain called the occipital cortex that the area is routinely called the visual cortex...

The appendix adds:

If you place an obstacle in front of a person with damage to the primary visual cortex, the person won’t consciously see the obstacle but will walk around it.

Scientists and philosophers debate about what it means "to see." Does it mean:

  • Having visual experiences that you are conscious of, known as qualia?
  • Behaving in a way that indicates you detect the presence of objects in the visual world? For example, in a phenomenon called blindsight, a person has no visual experience but can behave in response to the things they cannot consciously see.[1] So they would walk around an obstacle on the floor even if they don't consciously see it.

The cognitive psychologist Phil Merikle defined these alternatives as subjective awareness and objective awareness, respectively.[2]


  1. Weiskrantz, Lawrence, Alan Cowey, and Carolyne Le Mare. 1998. "Learning From the Pupil: A Spatial Visual Channel In the Absence of V1 In Monkey and Human." Brain 121 (6): 1065–1072.
  2. Cheesman, Jim, and Philip M. Merikle. 1986. "Distinguishing Conscious From Unconscious Perceptual Processes." Canadian Journal of Psychology 40 (4): 343–367.