The role of attention in subliminal semantic processing: A mouse tracking study
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Recent evidence suggests that top-down attention facilitates unconscious semantic processing. To clarify the role of attention in unconscious semantic processing, we traced trajectories of the computer mouse in a semantic priming task and scrutinized the extent to which top-down attention enhances unconscious semantic processing in four different stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA: 50, 200, 500, or 1000ms) conditions. Participants judged whether a target digit (e.g., "6") was larger or smaller than five, preceded by a masked priming digit (e.g., "9"). The pre-prime duration changed randomly from trial to trial to disrupt participants' top-down attention in an uncued condition (in a cued condition, a green square cue was presented to facilitate participants' top-down attention). The results show that top-down attention modifies the time course of subliminal semantic processing, and the temporal attention window lasts more than 1000ms; attention facilitated by the cue may amplify semantic priming to some extent, yet the amplification effect of attention is relatively minor.
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