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Specifying attentional top-down influences on subsequent unconscious semantic processing.

Martens U, Kiefer M - Adv Cogn Psychol (2009)

Bottom Line: Semantic priming was attenuated when the primary task was hard, that is, when only little attentional resources were available.In Experiment 2, a semantic or perceptual induction task differentially modulated subsequent masked semantic priming.Hence, unconscious automatic processing depends on the availability of attentional resources and is susceptible to top-down control.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of General Psychology I, University of Osnabrück, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Classical theories assume that unconscious automatic processes are autonomous and independent of higher-level cognitive influences. In contrast, we propose that automatic processing depends on a specific configuration of the cognitive system by top-down control. In 2 experiments, we tested the influence of available attentional resources and previously activated task sets on masked semantic priming in a lexical decision task. In Experiment 1, before masked prime presentation, participants were engaged in an easy or hard primary task that differentially afforded attentional resources. Semantic priming was attenuated when the primary task was hard, that is, when only little attentional resources were available. In Experiment 2, a semantic or perceptual induction task differentially modulated subsequent masked semantic priming. Hence, unconscious automatic processing depends on the availability of attentional resources and is susceptible to top-down control.

No MeSH data available.


Median and standard error of reaction times (RT, upper panel) and								error rates (ER, lower panel) in the lexical decision task towards								semantically related (related - black) and unrelated (unrelated -								white) prime-target pairings under easy and hard primary task								conditions, respectively, and separately for each								response-prime-interval (RPI = 200, 500, 800, and 1100 ms).
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Figure 2: Median and standard error of reaction times (RT, upper panel) and error rates (ER, lower panel) in the lexical decision task towards semantically related (related - black) and unrelated (unrelated - white) prime-target pairings under easy and hard primary task conditions, respectively, and separately for each response-prime-interval (RPI = 200, 500, 800, and 1100 ms).

Mentions: Of all response times to the lexical decision task, the slowest 15% of trials of each subject were defined as outliers. This resulted in the removal of 6.8% of trials from the relevant dataset (word-word pairings). ANOVAs with repeated-measures on the factors primary task difficulty, and RPI and semantic relatedness were performed on median RT and ER. For the RT data all three main effects were significant. Lexical decisions were much faster when the previous primary task was easy rather than hard, F(1, 30) = 32.8, p < .0001; 681 vs. 748 ms. The RPI influenced response times towards the target significantly in the way that with increasing RPI response time decreased, F(3, 90) = 7.7, p < .001; 734 vs. 713 vs. 706 vs. 705 ms. Importantly, the semantically related prime-target pairs facilitated significantly the lexical decision towards the target compared with semantically unrelated pairings, F(1, 30) = 19.2, p < .0001; 701 vs. 728 ms. This effect was further qualified by the two-way interaction of primary task difficulty by semantic relatedness, F(1, 30) = 8.7, p = .0062. Following the easy primary task, masked priming effects were much larger, F(1, 30) = 39.0, p < .0001, Δm = 40.2 ms, compared with priming effects following the hard primary task, Δm = 13.5 ms (see Figure 2). In fact, masked priming in the hard primary task condition was not significant, F(1, 30) = 2.5, p = .13. Figure 2 illustrated the reaction time data and error rates separately for both primary task and the different RPIs.


Specifying attentional top-down influences on subsequent unconscious semantic processing.

Martens U, Kiefer M - Adv Cogn Psychol (2009)

Median and standard error of reaction times (RT, upper panel) and								error rates (ER, lower panel) in the lexical decision task towards								semantically related (related - black) and unrelated (unrelated -								white) prime-target pairings under easy and hard primary task								conditions, respectively, and separately for each								response-prime-interval (RPI = 200, 500, 800, and 1100 ms).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2865006&req=5

Figure 2: Median and standard error of reaction times (RT, upper panel) and error rates (ER, lower panel) in the lexical decision task towards semantically related (related - black) and unrelated (unrelated - white) prime-target pairings under easy and hard primary task conditions, respectively, and separately for each response-prime-interval (RPI = 200, 500, 800, and 1100 ms).
Mentions: Of all response times to the lexical decision task, the slowest 15% of trials of each subject were defined as outliers. This resulted in the removal of 6.8% of trials from the relevant dataset (word-word pairings). ANOVAs with repeated-measures on the factors primary task difficulty, and RPI and semantic relatedness were performed on median RT and ER. For the RT data all three main effects were significant. Lexical decisions were much faster when the previous primary task was easy rather than hard, F(1, 30) = 32.8, p < .0001; 681 vs. 748 ms. The RPI influenced response times towards the target significantly in the way that with increasing RPI response time decreased, F(3, 90) = 7.7, p < .001; 734 vs. 713 vs. 706 vs. 705 ms. Importantly, the semantically related prime-target pairs facilitated significantly the lexical decision towards the target compared with semantically unrelated pairings, F(1, 30) = 19.2, p < .0001; 701 vs. 728 ms. This effect was further qualified by the two-way interaction of primary task difficulty by semantic relatedness, F(1, 30) = 8.7, p = .0062. Following the easy primary task, masked priming effects were much larger, F(1, 30) = 39.0, p < .0001, Δm = 40.2 ms, compared with priming effects following the hard primary task, Δm = 13.5 ms (see Figure 2). In fact, masked priming in the hard primary task condition was not significant, F(1, 30) = 2.5, p = .13. Figure 2 illustrated the reaction time data and error rates separately for both primary task and the different RPIs.

Bottom Line: Semantic priming was attenuated when the primary task was hard, that is, when only little attentional resources were available.In Experiment 2, a semantic or perceptual induction task differentially modulated subsequent masked semantic priming.Hence, unconscious automatic processing depends on the availability of attentional resources and is susceptible to top-down control.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of General Psychology I, University of Osnabrück, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Classical theories assume that unconscious automatic processes are autonomous and independent of higher-level cognitive influences. In contrast, we propose that automatic processing depends on a specific configuration of the cognitive system by top-down control. In 2 experiments, we tested the influence of available attentional resources and previously activated task sets on masked semantic priming in a lexical decision task. In Experiment 1, before masked prime presentation, participants were engaged in an easy or hard primary task that differentially afforded attentional resources. Semantic priming was attenuated when the primary task was hard, that is, when only little attentional resources were available. In Experiment 2, a semantic or perceptual induction task differentially modulated subsequent masked semantic priming. Hence, unconscious automatic processing depends on the availability of attentional resources and is susceptible to top-down control.

No MeSH data available.