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Task-induced attention load guides and gates unconscious semantic interference

Hung, Shao-Min and Wu, Daw-An and Shimojo, Shinsuke (2020) Task-induced attention load guides and gates unconscious semantic interference. Nature Communications, 11 . Art. No. 2088. ISSN 2041-1723. PMCID PMC7190740.

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The tight relationship between attention and conscious perception has been extensively researched in the past decades. However, whether attentional modulation extended to unconscious processes remained largely unknown, particularly when it came to abstract and high-level processing. Here we use a double Stroop paradigm to demonstrate that attention load gates unconscious semantic processing. We find that word and color incongruencies between a subliminal prime and a supraliminal target cause slower responses to non-Stroop target words—but only if the task is to name the target word (low-load task), and not if the task is to name the target’s color (high-load task). The task load hypothesis is confirmed by showing that the word-induced incongruence effect can be detected in the color-naming task, but only in the late, practiced trials. We further replicate this task-induced attentional modulation phenomenon in separate experiments with colorless words (word-only) and words with semantic relationship but no orthographic similarities (semantics-only).

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Hung, Shao-Min0000-0002-8908-1497
Wu, Daw-An0000-0003-4296-3369
Shimojo, Shinsuke0000-0002-1290-5232
Additional Information:© The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit Received 25 June 2019; Accepted 10 March 2020; Published 29 April 2020. The authors thank the support of James Boswell Postdoctoral Fellowship and Caltech Biology and Biological Engineering Divisional Postdoctoral Fellowship to S.-M.H and the research funding from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) (JST.CREST2014) to S.S. Data availability: The raw data are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Author Contributions: Conceptualization, S.-M.H. D.-A.W. and S.S.; Methodology, S.-M.H.; Software, S.-M.H.; Investigation, S.-M.H.; Writing—Original Draft, S.-M.H.; Writing—Review and Editing, S.-M.H. D.-A.W. and S.S.; Supervision, S.S. The authors declare no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
James G. Boswell FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Division of Biology and Biological EngineeringUNSPECIFIED
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)JST.CREST2014
Subject Keywords:Attention; Consciousness
PubMed Central ID:PMC7190740
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200429-132236164
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Hung, S., Wu, D. & Shimojo, S. Task-induced attention load guides and gates unconscious semantic interference. Nat Commun 11, 2088 (2020).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:102908
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:29 Apr 2020 20:39
Last Modified:05 May 2020 16:03

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