Independence between implicit and explicit processing as revealed by the Simon effect

Consciousness and Cognition 20 (3):523-533 (2011)
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Abstract

Studies showing human behavior influenced by subliminal stimuli mainly focus on implicit processing per se, and little is known about its interaction with explicit processing. We examined this by using the Simon effect, wherein a task-irrelevant spatial distracter interferes with lateralized response. Lo and Yeh found that the visual Simon effect, although it occurred when participants were aware of the visual distracters, did not occur with subliminal visual distracters. We used the same paradigm and examined whether subliminal and supra-threshold stimuli are processed independently by adding a supra-threshold auditory distracter to ascertain whether it would interact with the subliminal visual distracter. Results showed auditory Simon effect, but there was still no visual Simon effect, indicating that supra-threshold and subliminal stimuli are processed separately in independent streams. In contrast to the traditional view that implicit processing precedes explicit processing, our results suggest that they operate independently in a parallel fashion

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