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Qian Xu, Li Wang, Yi Jiang; Unconscious contingency learning modulates conscious visual perception. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):116. doi: 10.1167/12.9.116.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
People can readily detect critical contingencies between different objects or events. Here, we report that contingency learning can occur even when the stimuli are not consciously perceived. In a design that combines a dot probe paradigm and interocular suppression, we rendered two faces (with fearful and neutral expressions) invisible and their locations random, one of which, however, was always followed by a probe. Observers improved over time on the probe discrimination task, implying that they could learn the spatial contingency between the probes and the invisible faces. Crucially, such improvement was not due to practice effect, as it disappeared when the contingency was absent. More intriguingly, following the learning, the face associated with the probe, though not consciously perceived by observers, could nevertheless prolong its dominance in binocular rivalry over the other face. To sum up, contingency learning can occur unconsciously, which further enhances the visual representation of the contingent stimulus at the conscious level.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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