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Galang Lufityanto, Joel Pearson; Nonconscious Emotional Information Boosts Categorically Unrelated Concurrent Visual Decisions. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):46. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.12.46.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Can categorically different sources of unconscious information be utilised to aid in concurrent perceptual decisions? Here, we employ a novel empirical paradigm that utilises a noisy visual decision task and the concurrent presentation of suppressed emotional images. Using continuous flash suppression we rendered both positive and fearful images nonconscious. Participants had to decide the direction of random dot motion stimuli presented simultaneously with the suppressed emotional images. The binary emotional valence of the images (positive or negative) was concordant with the direction of the motion in the decision stimulus (right or left) across 6 levels of dots motion coherence. We found that that suppressed emotional images boosted decision accuracy, sped up reaction times, and increase reports of confidence for brief presentation of stimuli (i.e. 400 ms) relative to a spatial phase-scrambled version of the same images. However, accuracy was no higher when the decisional stimulus was paired with different categories of non-emotional images. To test the contingency between emotional and sensory information, we reversed the association between emotional valence (positive and negative emotion) and dot motion direction on the third block of trials. When the association was reversed the difference in accuracy between the intact emotional images and their phase-scrambled version disappeared. A consistent contingency between emotional valence and dot direction is seemingly required for individuals to utilize unconscious emotional information in the otherwise unrelated decision task. Next, we measured skin conductance while participants performed the emotionally boosted decision task. We found a differential skin conductance response to suppressed normal images compared to the phase-scrambled control images. More importantly, the electrodermal activity declined with increasing dots motion coherence suggesting an interaction with decisional difficultly. Together these data suggest a possible new experimental paradigm to investigate the dynamics of processes and experiences often described as intuition.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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