Dirk Vorberg, Uwe Mattler, Armin Heinecke, Thomas Schmidt, and Jens Schwarzbach (2003)

Different time courses for visual perception and action priming (PSYNDEXshort)

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100(10):6275--6280.

Visual stimuli may remain invisible but nevertheless produce strong and reliable effects on subsequent actions. How well features of a masked prime are perceived depends crucially on its physical parameters and those of the mask. We manipulated the visibility of masked stimuli and contrasted it with their influence on the speed of motor actions, comparing the temporal dynamics of visual awareness in metacontrast masking with that of action priming under the same conditions. We observed priming with identical time course for reportable and invisible prime stimuli, despite qualitative changes in the masking time course. Our findings indicate that experimental variations that modify the subjective visual experience of masked stimuli have no effect on motor effects of those stimuli in early processing. We propose a model that provides a quantitative account of priming effects on response speed and accuracy.