MECHANISMS OF SUBLIMINAL RESPONSE PRIMING
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Subliminal response priming has been considered to operate on several stages, e.g. perceptual, central or motor stages might be affected. While primes' impact on target perception has been clearly demonstrated, semantic response priming recently has been thrown into doubt (e.g. Klinger, Burton & Pitts, 2000). Finally, LRP studies have revealed that subliminal primes evoke motor processes. Yet, the premises for such prime-evoked motor activation are not settled. A transfer of priming to stimuli that have never been presented as targets appears particularly interesting because it suggests a level of processing that goes beyond a reactivation of previously acquired S-R links. Yet, such transfer has not always withstood empirical testing. To account for these contradictory results, the authors proposed a two-process model (Kunde, Kiesel & Hoffmann, 2003): First, participants build up expectations regarding imperative stimuli for the required responses according to experience and/or instructions. Second, stimuli that match these "action triggers" directly activate the corresponding motor responses irrespective of their conscious identification. In line with these assumptions, recent studies revealed that non-target primes induce priming when they fit the current task intentions and when they are expected in the experimental setting.
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