Influence of spatial attention on conscious and unconscious word priming

Consciousness and Cognition 21 (1):117-138 (2012)
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We used a qualitative dissociation procedure to assess semantic priming from spatially attended and unattended masked words. Participants categorized target words that were preceded by parafoveal prime words belonging to either the same or the opposite category as the target. Using this paradigm, only non-strategic use of the prime would result in facilitation of the target responses in related trials. Primes were immediately masked or masked with a delay, while spatial attention was allocated to the primes’ location or away from the primes’ location. Immediate masked, strongly related primes facilitated target responses irrespective of the spatial attention. Delayed masked, related primes led to reversed or facilitatory priming depending on whether they were cued or uncued. These findings demonstrate that perceiving a stimulus with or without awareness depends on both stimulus quality and attention orienting and that non-strategic priming can be observed from clear visible but spatially unattended words



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