Daniel Krüger, Susan Klapötke, Stefan Bode, and Uwe Mattler (2013)

Neural correlates of control operations in inverse priming with relevant and irrelevant masks.

NeuroImage, 64:197--208.

The inverse priming paradigm can be considered one example which demonstrates the operation of control processes in the absence of conscious experience of the inducing stimuli. Inverse priming is generated by a prime that is followed by a mask and a subsequent imperative target stimulus. With 'relevant' masks that are composed of the superposition of both prime alternatives, the inverse priming effect is typically larger than with 'irrelevant' masks that are free of task-relevant features. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural substrates that are involved in the generation of inverse priming effects with relevant and irrelevant masks. We found a network of brain areas that is accessible to unconscious primes, including supplementary motor area (SMA), anterior insula, middle cingulate cortex, and supramarginal gyrus. Activation of these brain areas were involved in inverse priming when relevant masks were used. With irrelevant masks, however, only SMA activation was involved in inverse priming effects. Activation in SMA correlated with inverse priming effects of individual participants on reaction time, indicating that this brain area reflects the size of inverse priming effects on the behavioral level. Findings are most consistent with the view that a basic inhibitory mechanism contributes to inverse priming with either type of mask and additional processes contribute to the effect with relevant masks. This study provides new evidence showing that cognitive control operations in the human cortex take account of task relevant stimulus information even if this information is not consciously perceived. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Sponsor: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany. Grant: MA 2276/3-2. Recipients: Mattler, Uwe