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Subliminal stimuli in the near absence of attention influence top-down cognitive control

Authors
Journal
Attention Perception & Psychophysics
1943-3921
Publisher
Springer - Psychonomic Society
Publication Date
Volume
74
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/s13414-011-0246-z
Keywords
  • Article

Abstract

Recent research has shown that visual stimuli can influence cognitive control functions, even if subjects are unaware of the identity of the stimuli. However, in those previous studies, subjects actively attended to the location of the subliminal stimuli. Here we assessed the role of endogenous spatial attention in such paradigms. We required subjects to quickly prepare for one of two numerical judgment tasks on the basis of the direction of motion in patches of moving dots presented in cued spatial locations. We found that irrelevant motion patches presented in the uncued spatial locations also influenced task performance. Motion in the uncued patches was weak and did not affect the perception of the cued patches. Further analyses suggested that the effect of priming by the uncued stimuli was present even for subjects who could only discriminate such stimuli at chance level. Three additional experiments confirmed that subjects paid minimal attention to the uncued locations, in that the subjects could not perform simple discriminations of conjunctions of features in those locations.

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