Aims: Recently, using the fMRI method in a paradigm in which visible word cues were followed by masked faces at a completely unconscious level or masked tools at a partially conscious level, Tu, Qiu, Martens, & Zhang  showed that the top-down modulation effects were in opposite directions for the two conditions. Because five different pictures of masked faces/tools were displayed in a trial, the authors proposed that the modulation effects could further interact with the conscious component of the partial awareness processing (i.e., awareness of the global contour change). In the present event-related potential study, we employed a paradigm similar to that of Tu et al.’s  except that the masked stimulus was displayed only once to test the effect of category selective attention on unconscious processing of picture identity and to try to investigate the above hypothesis.
Study Design: Two semantic category cues (“face” or “tool”) and two types of subliminal stimuli (face or tool images) were crossed to generate four conditions: a face cue followed by a masked face picture, a face cue followed by a masked tool picture, a tool cue followed by a masked face picture, and a tool cue followed by a masked tool picture.
Place and Duration of Study: Department of psychology, Institute of education, China West Normal University, between September 2013 and April 2014.
Methodology: The technique of event-related potentials (ERP) was used.
Results: Processing of masked face and tool images both elicited the ERP components of C1, P1, N1, and P2. In addition, C1 component between 25 ms and 55 ms was smaller in the valid category cue-word condition (face cue-word followed by masked face image & tool cue-word followed by masked tool image) than in the invalid cue-words (face cue-word followed by masked tool image & tool cue-word followed by masked face image). The other three waves, P1, N1, and P2, were found to be unaffected by the top–down modulation
Conclusion: Category-selective attention can modulate unconscious processes at an early stage of visual processing supporting the interaction hypothesis.
Liu, Chengzhen; Sun, Zhiyi; Jou, Jerwen; Martens, Ulla; Yang, Qinlin; Qiu, Jiang; Zhang, Qinglin; and Tu, Shen, "Category-selective Attention Modulates Unconscious Processing: Evidence from ERP" (2015). Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations. 2.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.