Semantic activation in the absence of perceptual awareness.
Ortells JJ., Daza MT., Fox E.
Participants performed a semantic categorization task on a target that was preceded by a prime word belonging either to the same category (20% of trials) or to a different category (80% of trials). The prime was presented for 33 msec and followed either immediately or after a delay by a pattern mask. With the immediate mask, reaction times (RTs) were shorter on related than on unrelated trials. This facilitatory priming reached significance at prime-target stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs) of 400 msec or less and remained unaffected by task practice. With the delayed mask, RTs were longer on related than on unrelated trials. This reversed (strategic) semantic priming proved to be significant (1) only at a prime-target SOA of 400 msec or longer and (2) after the participants had some practice with the task. The present findings provide further evidence that perceiving a stimulus with and without phenomenological awareness can lead to qualitatively different behavioral consequences.