Pointing it out

processing faces in the absence of attention

Genevieve Quek, Matthew Finkbeiner

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


Masked priming is a phenomenon in which subliminal stimuli modulate responses to subsequent visible targets. In congruence priming paradigms, subjects typically respond faster to congruent targets (i.e. of the same category as the preceding prime) than to incongruent targets. Such effects are generally only observed when the prime stimulus is attended. This is not the case for faces, which produce priming effects both when attended and unattended. But is face processing truly invulnerable to attentional modulation, or simply more robust to it than other stimuli? We hypothesised that congruence priming should be evident earlier when the face is attended, and tested this possibility using a reaching paradigm that indexes priming at a stage in which stimulus processing is still ongoing. Using this sensitive measure, we find converging evidence that the visual system is able to process masked faces in the absence of attention, and speculate on the nature of attentional effects on this processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244
Number of pages1
JournalClinical EEG and neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventAustralasian Cognitive Neurosciences Conference (21st : 2011) - Sydney
Duration: 9 Dec 201112 Dec 2011

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