Simon Palmer and Uwe Mattler (2013)

Masked stimuli modulate endogenous shifts of spatial attention.

Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal, 22(2):486--503.

Unconscious stimuli can influence participants’ motor behavior but also more complex mental processes. Recent research has gradually extended the limits of effects of unconscious stimuli. One field of research where such limits have been proposed is spatial cueing, where exogenous automatic shifts of attention have been distinguished from endogenous controlled processes which govern voluntary shifts of attention. Previous evidence suggests unconscious effects on mechanisms of exogenous shifts of attention. Here, we applied a cue-priming paradigm to a spatial cueing task with arbitrary cues by centrally presenting a masked symmetrical prime before every cue stimulus. We found priming effects on response times in target discrimination tasks with the typical dynamic of cue-priming effects (Experiments 1 and 2) indicating that central symmetrical stimuli which have been associated with endogenous orienting can modulate shifts of spatial attention even when they are masked. Prime–Cue Congruency effects of perceptual dissimilar prime and cue stimuli (Experiment 3) suggest that these effects cannot be entirely reduced to perceptual repetition priming of cue processing. In addition, priming effects did not differ between participants with good and poor prime recognition performance consistent with the view that unconscious stimulus features have access to processes of endogenous shifts of attention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Sponsor: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany. Grant: MA 2276/4-1. Other Details: Within the Research Network Neuro-Cognitive Mechanisms of Conscious and Unconscious Visual Perception (PAK 270).. Recipients: Mattler, Uwe

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