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Further evidence for unconscious learning: preliminary support for the conditioning of facial EMG to subliminal stimuli

Authors
Journal
Journal of Psychiatric Research
0022-3956
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
33
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-3956(99)00003-5
Keywords
  • Unconscious Learning
  • Classical Conditioning
  • Emg
  • Corrugator Supercilii
  • Obicularis Oculi

Abstract

Abstract This study investigated the predictive validity of facial electromyograms (EMGs) in a subliminal conditioning paradigm. Two schematic faces (pleasant; CS− and unpleasant; CS+), were presented to eight right-handed males during supraliminal pre- and postconditioning phases. Subliminal conditioning consisted of 36 energy-masked presentations of each face pairing the CS+ with an aversive shock 800 ms poststimulus. A forced-choice recognition task established that the energy mask effectively precluded conscious recognition of stimuli. For the obicularis oculi and corrugator EMGs, significant face × condition interactions were found at 20–100 ms and 400–792 ms poststimulus. The results demonstrate the existence of an expressive motoric response related to affect operating in response to a learned but unconscious event. Subjects were not aware of a contingency between the CS+ and the US, suggesting emotional contingencies can be unconsciously acquired.

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