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Top-down modulation of unconscious 'automatic' processes: A gating framework.

Kiefer M - Adv Cogn Psychol (2008)

Bottom Line: It is assumed that task representations held in prefrontal cortex regulate the gain of neurons in visual and sematic association cortex thereby modulating the effects of unconsciously perceived masked stimuli on further 'automatic' information processing steps.These results support the view that unconscious automatic processes are modulated by top-down factors.They are suggestive of a gating mechanism which orchestrates the conscious and unconscious information processing streams.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: University of Ulm, Department of Psychiatry, Germany.

ABSTRACT
In classical theories of automaticity, automatic processes are usually thought to occur autonomously and independently of higher level top-down factors (e.g., Posner & Snyder, 1975). However, already Neumann (1984) pointed out that the cognitive system has to be configured in a certain way for automatic processes to occur. In extension of his work, I propose a gating framework to account for the influence of top-down factors such as attention, intention and task set on automatic processes such as masked response or semantic priming. It is assumed that task representations held in prefrontal cortex regulate the gain of neurons in visual and sematic association cortex thereby modulating the effects of unconsciously perceived masked stimuli on further 'automatic' information processing steps. In support of the postulated gating framework, recent studies demonstrated a top-down modulation of automatic processes. Behavioral and electrophysiological studies with the masked response priming and semantic priming paradigms show that masked priming effects crucially depend (i) on temporal attention to the masked prime, (ii) on intentions or action plans and (iii) on the task set active immediately before masked prime presentation. For instance, masked semantic priming was only observed when the preceding task set required the orientation to semantic word features, but not when it required orientation to perceptual word features. These results support the view that unconscious automatic processes are modulated by top-down factors. They are suggestive of a gating mechanism which orchestrates the conscious and unconscious information processing streams.

No MeSH data available.


Schematic depiction of sample congruent and incongruent trials (a) and						response times for the three conditions (b) in Experiment 1 of the Naccache						et al. (2002) study. The motor						response was congruent when the prime and the target numbers were both						either greater than 5 or less than 5; if one was greater than 5 and the						other was less than 5, they were incongruent. Response priming effects were						only obtained when the target was presented after a fixed time interval						(after Naccache et al., 2002).
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Figure 4: Schematic depiction of sample congruent and incongruent trials (a) and response times for the three conditions (b) in Experiment 1 of the Naccache et al. (2002) study. The motor response was congruent when the prime and the target numbers were both either greater than 5 or less than 5; if one was greater than 5 and the other was less than 5, they were incongruent. Response priming effects were only obtained when the target was presented after a fixed time interval (after Naccache et al., 2002).

Mentions: In the first two studies reviewed in this section, the modulatory influence of temporal attention on automatic processes was investigated. These studies show that allocation of temporal attention is a prerequisite for automatic priming to occur. In all masked priming studies described in the first section of this article, subjects typically attended to the stimulation stream during the time windows of prime and target presentation. For that reason these earlier studies are not suitable to assess the influence of attention on automatic processes. Naccache, Blandin, and Dehaene (2002) manipulated in a numerical response priming paradigm the allocation of temporal attention to the target. In this paradigm (Dehaene et al., 1998), subjects were instructed to compare target numbers to a fixed reference of five. Numbers smaller and larger than five were assigned to different response hands. Subjects were faster when the masked prime and the target number fell on the same side of five, and therefore called for the same motor response than when they called for a different response (response priming effect, see also Vorberg, Mattler, Heinecke, Schmidt, & Schwarzbach, 2003). In order to manipulate the allocation of temporal attention, Naccache et al. (2002) presented subjects with a continuous stream of visual masks within which the primes and targets appeared at varying time points after trial onset. They compared the amount of priming on the same trials, depending on whether the time of target occurrence was blocked, and therefore predictable (implicit cueing), or variable, and therefore unpredictable (Experiment 1). They found response priming effects only when the onset of the target was predictable (Figure 4). In two more experiments temporal attention was explicitly cued, yielding identical results as with the implicit cuing procedure.


Top-down modulation of unconscious 'automatic' processes: A gating framework.

Kiefer M - Adv Cogn Psychol (2008)

Schematic depiction of sample congruent and incongruent trials (a) and						response times for the three conditions (b) in Experiment 1 of the Naccache						et al. (2002) study. The motor						response was congruent when the prime and the target numbers were both						either greater than 5 or less than 5; if one was greater than 5 and the						other was less than 5, they were incongruent. Response priming effects were						only obtained when the target was presented after a fixed time interval						(after Naccache et al., 2002).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2864982&req=5

Figure 4: Schematic depiction of sample congruent and incongruent trials (a) and response times for the three conditions (b) in Experiment 1 of the Naccache et al. (2002) study. The motor response was congruent when the prime and the target numbers were both either greater than 5 or less than 5; if one was greater than 5 and the other was less than 5, they were incongruent. Response priming effects were only obtained when the target was presented after a fixed time interval (after Naccache et al., 2002).
Mentions: In the first two studies reviewed in this section, the modulatory influence of temporal attention on automatic processes was investigated. These studies show that allocation of temporal attention is a prerequisite for automatic priming to occur. In all masked priming studies described in the first section of this article, subjects typically attended to the stimulation stream during the time windows of prime and target presentation. For that reason these earlier studies are not suitable to assess the influence of attention on automatic processes. Naccache, Blandin, and Dehaene (2002) manipulated in a numerical response priming paradigm the allocation of temporal attention to the target. In this paradigm (Dehaene et al., 1998), subjects were instructed to compare target numbers to a fixed reference of five. Numbers smaller and larger than five were assigned to different response hands. Subjects were faster when the masked prime and the target number fell on the same side of five, and therefore called for the same motor response than when they called for a different response (response priming effect, see also Vorberg, Mattler, Heinecke, Schmidt, & Schwarzbach, 2003). In order to manipulate the allocation of temporal attention, Naccache et al. (2002) presented subjects with a continuous stream of visual masks within which the primes and targets appeared at varying time points after trial onset. They compared the amount of priming on the same trials, depending on whether the time of target occurrence was blocked, and therefore predictable (implicit cueing), or variable, and therefore unpredictable (Experiment 1). They found response priming effects only when the onset of the target was predictable (Figure 4). In two more experiments temporal attention was explicitly cued, yielding identical results as with the implicit cuing procedure.

Bottom Line: It is assumed that task representations held in prefrontal cortex regulate the gain of neurons in visual and sematic association cortex thereby modulating the effects of unconsciously perceived masked stimuli on further 'automatic' information processing steps.These results support the view that unconscious automatic processes are modulated by top-down factors.They are suggestive of a gating mechanism which orchestrates the conscious and unconscious information processing streams.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: University of Ulm, Department of Psychiatry, Germany.

ABSTRACT
In classical theories of automaticity, automatic processes are usually thought to occur autonomously and independently of higher level top-down factors (e.g., Posner & Snyder, 1975). However, already Neumann (1984) pointed out that the cognitive system has to be configured in a certain way for automatic processes to occur. In extension of his work, I propose a gating framework to account for the influence of top-down factors such as attention, intention and task set on automatic processes such as masked response or semantic priming. It is assumed that task representations held in prefrontal cortex regulate the gain of neurons in visual and sematic association cortex thereby modulating the effects of unconsciously perceived masked stimuli on further 'automatic' information processing steps. In support of the postulated gating framework, recent studies demonstrated a top-down modulation of automatic processes. Behavioral and electrophysiological studies with the masked response priming and semantic priming paradigms show that masked priming effects crucially depend (i) on temporal attention to the masked prime, (ii) on intentions or action plans and (iii) on the task set active immediately before masked prime presentation. For instance, masked semantic priming was only observed when the preceding task set required the orientation to semantic word features, but not when it required orientation to perceptual word features. These results support the view that unconscious automatic processes are modulated by top-down factors. They are suggestive of a gating mechanism which orchestrates the conscious and unconscious information processing streams.

No MeSH data available.