Spatial Orienting Controlled without Awareness: A Semantically Based Implicit Learning Effect
Authors: Lambert, Anthony J.; Sumich, Alexander L.
Source: The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology A, 1 May 1996, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 490-518(29)
Abstract:Three experiments tested whether spatial attention can be influenced by a predictive relation between incidental information and the location of target events. Subjects performed a simple dot detection task; 600 msec prior to each target a word was presented briefly 5 to the left or right of fixation. There was a predictive relationship between the semantic category (living or non-living) of the words and target location. However, subjects were instructed to ignore the words, and a post-experiment questionnaire confirmed that they remained unaware of the word-target relationship. In all three experiments, given some practice on the task, response times were faster when targets appeared at likely ( p = 0.8), compared to unlikely ( p = 0.2) locations, in relation to lateral word category. Experiments 2 and 3 confirmed that this effect was driven by semantic encoding of the irrelevant words, and not by repetition of individual stimuli. Theoretical implications of this finding are discussed.
Document Type: Research Article