Attentional Sensitization of Unconscious Cognition: Task Sets Modulate Subsequent Masked Semantic Priming

Autor(en): Kiefer, Markus
Martens, Ulla
Stichwörter: attentional control; AUTOMATIC PROCESSES; BACKWARD INHIBITION; EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS; EXECUTIVE CONTROL; LEXICAL DECISION; NEURAL MECHANISMS; PREFRONTAL CORTEX; Psychology; Psychology, Experimental; semantic priming; SPREADING ACTIVATION; STRATEGIC CONTROL; subliminal perception; unconscious cognition; WORD RECOGNITION
Erscheinungsdatum: 2010
Herausgeber: AMER PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOC
Journal: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL
Volumen: 139
Ausgabe: 3
Startseite: 464
Seitenende: 489
Zusammenfassung: 
According to classical theories, automatic processes are autonomous and independent of higher level cognitive influence. In contrast, the authors propose that automatic processing depends on attentional sensitization of task-congruent processing pathways. In 3 experiments, the authors tested this hypothesis with a modified masked semantic priming paradigm during a lexical decision task by measuring event-related potentials (ERPs): Before masked prime presentation, participants attended an induction task either to semantic or perceptual stimulus features designed to activate a semantic or perceptual task set, respectively. Semantic priming effects on the N400 ERP component, an electrophysiological index of semantic processing, were obtained when a semantic task set was induced immediately before subliminal prime presentation, whereas a previously induced perceptual task set attenuated N400 priming. Across experiments, comparable results were obtained regardless of the difficulty level and the verbal or nonverbal nature of the induction tasks. In line with the proposed attentional sensitization model, unconscious semantic processing is enhanced by a semantic and attenuated by a perceptual task set. Hence, automatic processing of unconscious stimuli is susceptible to top-down control for optimizing goal-related information processing.
ISSN: 00963445
DOI: 10.1037/a0019561

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