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Georgia State University

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Philosophy Theses

Department of Philosophy

7-10-2012

A Test of Prinz's Air Theory: Is Attention Sufficient


for Conscious Emotion?
Anais F. Stenson
Georgia State University

Follow this and additional works at: http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/philosophy_theses


Recommended Citation
Stenson, Anais F., "A Test of Prinz's Air Theory: Is Attention Sufficient for Conscious Emotion?." Thesis, Georgia State University,
2012.
http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/philosophy_theses/117

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ATESTOFPRINZ'SAIRTHEORY:ISATTENTIONSUFFICIENTFORCONSCIOUSEMOTION?

by

ANASFERNSTENSON

UnderthedirectionofDr.AndreaScarantino

ABSTRACT

JessePrinzproposesthatattendedintermediatelevelrepresentations(AIRs)are
sufficientforconsciousawareness.Heextendsthisclaimtoemotion,arguingthatattention
isthemechanismthatseparatesconsciousfromunconsciousemotions.Priorstudiescall
thisentailmentintoquestion.However,theydonotdirectlyaddresstheintermediatelevel
requirement,andthuscannotdecisivelyrefutetheAIRtheoryofconsciousness.Thisthesis
teststhattheorybymanipulatingparticipantsattentiontodifferentfeaturesof
subliminallyprocessedwordswhilerecordingbothbehavioralandelectroencephalogram
(EEG)data.Bothmeasuressuggestthatsubliminallyprocessedstimuliareattended
accordingtoparticipantsconsciousintentiontocompleteatask.Inaddition,theEEGdata
demonstratethatintermediatelevelneuralactivitywasmodulatedbythesubliminal
stimuli.Thus,theseresultssuggestthatAIRsarenotsufficientforconsciousemotion.This
findingunderminesPrinzsAIRtheory,anditsaccountofthedistinctionbetween
consciousandunconsciousemotion.

INDEXWORDS:Attention,Consciousness,Emotion

ATESTOFPRINZ'SAIRTHEORY:ISATTENTIONSUFFICIENTFORCONSCIOUSEMOTION?

by

ANASFERNSTENSON

AThesisSubmittedinPartialFulfillmentoftheRequirementsfortheDegreeof
MasterofArts
intheCollegeofArtsandSciences
GeorgiaStateUniversity
2012

Copyrightby
AnasFernStenson
2012


ATESTOFPRINZ'SAIRTHEORY:ISATTENTIONSUFFICIENTFORCONSCIOUSEMOTION?

by

ANASFERNSTENSON

Committeechair:

Dr.AndreaScarantino

Committeemembers:

Dr.EddyNahmias
Dr.GwenFrishkoff
Dr.MichaelOwren

ElectronicVersionApproved:

OfficeofGraduateStudies
CollegeofArtsandSciences
GeorgiaStateUniversity
August2012


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

IthankDr.AndreaScarantino,Dr.EddyNahmias,Dr.GwenFrishkoff,andDr.
MichaelOwrenfortheirsupportandadvicethroughoutthecourseofthisstudy.Dr.
Scarantino,Dr.Nahmias,andDr.Owrenprovidedextensivefeedbackonthelatterdraftsof
thisthesis.Itisgreatlyimproved,thankstotheirsuggestions.Thetheoreticalquestions,
literaturereview,studydesignandimplementation(includingacquisition,analysis,and
interpretationofEEGandbehavioralmeasures)werecarriedoutunderthedirectionofDr.
Frishkoff,towhomIamdeeplygratefulforguidingmethroughmyfirstforayinto
neuroimagingresearch.Theexperimentpresentedinthethesiswouldnothavebeen
possiblewithoutherdedicationtotheproject.IwouldalsoliketothankAmandaClevinger,
AnnieGrapek,JustinTaylor,andSamSimsfortheirhelpwithdatacollectionanddata
management,aswellasTheresaMaglioandAnnieGrapekfortheirassistanceinpreparing
stimulusmaterials.Finally,Iamgratefulforthesupportandencouragementofthiswork
providedbymyfriendsandfamily,includingAmandaClevinger,ChristinaMiller,Ellen
EllieIrons,Dr.LisaHeimbauer,JohnSulzman,Dr.JulieStenson,MichaelAugiAugustin,
NoelMartin,Dr.PaulRuvolo,R.TobyAmoss,Dr.StephenDiVerdi,SallyHargate,SamSims,
S.AlexisOwen,andShaneCallahan.

iv


TABLEOFCONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS....iv
LISTOFTABLES....vii
LISTOFFIGURES....viii
1

INTRODUCTION..........1
1.1

PRINZSTHEORYOFEMOTIONSASEMBODIEDAPPRAISALS.......4

1.2

MARRSHIERARCHICALMODELOFPERCEPTION........7

1.3

THEROLEOFATTENTIONINCONSCIOUSEMOTIONS.......9

PRELIMINARYTHREATSTOTHEAIRTHEORY...13
2.1

ANOTEONNOMENCLATURE...14

2.2

THEMASKEDSTIMULUSPROCESSINGPARADIGM........16

ATESTOFPRINZSAIRTHEORY.....23
3.1

THEPRESENTSTUDY.28
3.1.1 GoalsandHypotheses.....28
3.1.2 TheParticipants.........29
3.1.3 TheParadigm..........30
3.1.4 TheTask.........31
3.1.5 TheStimuli........32

3.2

RESULTS....34
3.2.1 BehavioralData..35
3.2.1.1

CaseTaskResults....35

3.2.1.2

ValenceTaskResults.36


3.2.1.3

ComparingCaseandValenceTaskPerformance.36

3.2.2 EvokedResponsePotentials..37
4

ISTHESTUDYAVALIDTESTOFTHEAIRTHEORYANDPRINZSACCOUNTOF
UNCONSCIOUSEMOTIONS?.........43

PRINZSLIKELYCRITICISMSOFTHETESTANDITSRESULTS.....45
5.1.1 Objection1:Selection,NotAttention....45
5.1.2 Objection2:Orienting,NotAttention...47
5.1.3 Objection3:AttentionTakesTime.....49
5.1.4 Objection4:AttentionWithoutIntermediateLevelRepresentation51
5.1.5 Objection5:AnAbsenceofBehavioralPrimingEffectsEvidencesan
AbsenceofAttention...53
5.1.6 SummaryofDefensesoftheAIRTheory....55

CONCLUSION......56

WORKSCITED.......62
APPENDIX:METHODSSECTION......66

vi


LISTOFTABLES

Table1

Table2

Table3

Table4

33

34

68

69

vii


LISTOFFIGURES

FIGURE1

FIGURE2aand2b

FIGURE2cand2d

FIGURE3

FIGURE4aand4b

FIGURE4cand4d

FIGURE5

31

41

42

70

75

76

77

viii


1INTRODUCTION

Therelationshipbetweenattention,awareness,andemotionisacomplextopicthat
interestsbothphilosophersandpsychologists(Cloreetal.,2005;FeldmanBarrett,2005;
Berridge&Winkielman,2003;Lacewing,2007;Prinz,2005;Winkielman,2004;
Winkielmanetal.,2005).Inthiscontext,theexistenceofunconsciousemotionshasbeen
particularlycontroversial(Prinz,2011).Thosewhoviewconscious,subjectiveawareness1
asintrinsictoemotionregard"unconsciousemotion"asanoxymoron,whereasthosewho
adoptamoreinclusiveviewnotethataffectivelychargedstimulicanevokeemotional
responses,evenintheabsenceofawarenessofeitherthestimulus,theemotion,orboth.
Historically,feltexperiencewasconsideredanecessarycomponentofemotion.
WilliamJames(1884)articulatedaninfluentialstatementofthisview,writingthat,our
feelingofthesame[bodily]changesastheyoccurIStheemotion(p.190).Simplyput,the
phenomenologyofcertainphysiologicalchangesconstitutesanemotion.Onthisaccount,
emotionentailsconsciousexperience.Itfollowsthattherearenounconsciousemotions.
ManycontemporaryaccountsofemotiondescendfromthisJamesianview.
Proponentsofunconsciousemotionreplythatconsciousnessisnotnecessaryfor
emotion.Forinstance,WinkielmanandBerridge(2004)proposethat,peoplecanhave
subliminallytriggeredemotionalreactionsthatdrivejudgmentandbehavior,eveninthe
absenceofanyconsciousfeelingaccompanyingthesereactions(p.121).Thebehavioral
shiftistakenasevidenceoftheemotion,regardlessofwhetheritwasconsciously
experienced.Thisaccountoperationalizesemotionbyequatingitwithbehavioral
outcomesthatfollowfromtheperceptionofemotionallychargedstimuli.

1Inthepresentcontext,"consciousness"and"awareness"areusedinterchangeably.


Eachsidehasestablishedconditionsthatarepurportedlysufficientforemotion,and
botharguethatsolongasthosearefulfilled,aparticularstatecanproperlybecalledan
emotion.Asaresult,thetwopartiescountemotionsdifferently.Onewaytoadvancethis
debateistoexamineinstancesofpurportedlyconsciousandunconsciousemotioninorder
todeterminehowtheydiffer.
Inthisthesis,Iwillacceptforthesakeofargumentthatunconsciousemotionis
notanoxymoron,andexaminethespecificneurophysiologicalandmentalprocessesthat
maydistinguishbetweenconsciousandunconsciousemotions.Inparticular,myfocuswill
beonJessePrinzs(2011)recentproposalthatanemotionwillbecomeconsciousifand
onlyifavalencedstimulusisattended.Valenceisthehedonicqualityofastimulus,which
fallsalongaspectrumfromnegativetopositive(Prinz,2011,p.161).Prinzsthesisisthen
thatattentiontoastimuluswithhedonicqualityisbothnecessaryandsufficienttoproduce
aconsciousemotion,wherebyattentionhemeanstheavailabilityofastimulustoworking
memory(n.d,p.87).
Thegoalofthisthesisistotestpartofthisclaim:theideathatattentiontoa
valencedstimulusalwaysproducesaconsciousemotion.Iwillevaluatehowattentionto
differentdimensionsofaffectivelyvalencedwords(suchasmurder,peace,orcancer)can
impactresponsestothatstimulus,evenwhentherepresentationofthatstimulusdoesnot
enterintoconsciousawareness.Forthepresentexperiment,attentionisoperationalizedas
aconsciousintentiontocompleteaparticulartask.Ihypothesizethatsuchataskwill
impactsubliminalwordprocessing.Ifthisoutcomeobtains,thenPrinzsentailment
betweenattentionandconsciousnessisincorrect.


Totesttherelationshipbetweenattention,consciousness,andemotion,Iexamine
thebehavioralandbrainresponsestovalencedwordsduringtwodifferentexperimental
conditions.Inthefirst,participantswereinstructedtoattendtovalence.Theirtaskwasto
classifywordsasbeingstronglynegativeorneutral.Inthesecond,theyattendedtothe
caseofthewords.Theirtaskwastoclassifywordsasbeingupperorlowercase.Inboth
conditions,twowordswerepresentedinrapidsuccession.Thefirstwordwaspresented
foradurationthatprecludesconsciousperception(35milliseconds(ms)).Itwasquickly
replacedbythesecondword(3,000ms),whichisconsciouslyperceived.Participants
classifiedthiswordaccordingtothetask(eitherattendvalenceorattendcase).
Theresultsofthisexperimentdemonstratethatwhenattentionisconsciously
directedtoaparticularfeature(valenceorcase)ofwords,thatintentionimpactshow
subliminalstimulusprocessingunfolds.Bothbehavioralandelectrophysiological(EEG)
responsesvariedaccordingtothetaskcongruenceofthefirstandsecondwords.Thetask
specificeffectofthesubliminallyprocessedfirstwordonprocessingofthesubsequent
targetwordsuggeststhatparticipantsconsciousintentiontocompleteaparticulartask
impactedprocessingatthesubliminallevel.Thatis,whenbothwordswerecongruent
accordingtoagiventask,thefirstwordfacilitatedprocessingofthesecondword.
Theseresultssuggestthat,ifvalencedwordsaresufficienttoelicitemotions,then
thoseemotionscanbeattendedwithoutproducinganysubsequentconsciousexperience.
SincePrinzcontendsthatconsciousandunconsciousemotionsaredistinguishedby
attention,thecurrentresultssuggestfalsificationofhisaccount.Thatis,thisstudyprovides
evidencethatunconsciousemotionscanbeattendedwithoutbecomingconscious.Inother
words,ifthepresentresultswithstandobjections,theydemonstratethatconsciousand


unconsciousemotionsarenotseparatedbyattentionalone.Beforeacceptingthis
conclusion,though,thetheory,experiments,andinterpretationoftheresultsshouldbe
examinedingreaterdetail.
Thethesisisstructuredasfollows.First,IoutlinePrinzstheoriesofemotionand
consciousness.Ithenintroduceempiricalfindingsthatofferapreliminarychallengeto
Prinzsunderstandingoftheroleofattentioninconsciousphenomena.Next,Ipresentmy
ownstudy,designedexpresslytotestPrinzspredictionsconcerningtheroleofattentionin
emotionperception.Afterreviewingtheresultsofthisstudy,Iarguethattheyspelltrouble
forPrinzstheoryofunconsciousemotions.IthenconsiderPrinzslikelyobjectionsand
arguethatnonesucceedinaccountingforthepresentresults.Intheconclusion,Ipresent
evidencethatconsciousandunconsciousemotionprocessingunfolddifferently.Ithen
arguethatthesefindingsnecessitatethatPrinzrefinetheAIRtheorybothbybolsteringhis
definitionofattentionandreevaluatinghisrelianceonahierarchicalmodelofperceptual
processing.
1.1PRINZ'STHEORYOFEMOTIONSASEMBODIEDAPPRAISALS

Prinz(2004b)characterizesemotionsasperceptionsofpatternedchanges

inthebodythatarisewithinthesomatosensorysystem(p.371).Emotionhastworaw
ingredients:valenceandappraisal(Prinz,2004b,p.97).Anindividualsappraisalofthe
valence,orhedonicquality,ofastimulusproducesthebodilychanges(Prinz,2004b,p.
100).Forinstance,therealizationthatasnakeisdangerousproducesaparticular
physiologicalresponsetypically,thatwhichwillproducetheemotionoffear.The
perceptionofthesebodilychangesconstitutesregistrationofanemotion.


Prinz(2004b)distinguishesbetweenregistrationofanemotionandits
representationalcontent(p.58).Hespecifiesthatemotionsregisterchangesinthebody,
butthattheyrepresent"relationsbetweenexternalstatesandourselves,"whichhecalls
corerelationalthemes(2004b,p.60&66).Emotionscomeabout(arecaused)whenthe
brainregisterspatternsofbodilychanges,buttheydonotrepresentthosechanges(Prinz,
2004b,p.66&244).Rather,emotions,likefear,representcorerelationalthemes.Inthe
caseofasnake,thatthemeisdanger(Prinz,2004b,p.225).Feardoesnotrepresenta
racingheartandsweatypalms.Perceivingasnakecausestheemotionoffearbyproducing
asuiteofbodilychanges,suchastheracingheartandsweatypalms.Thesearethe
physiologicalsymptomsofdanger.Thefeelingoffearrepresentsthedangerposedtothe
individualbythesnake.Emotionsarethusvalencedperceptionsofbodilychangesthat
conveyinformationaboutanindividualspositionintheexternalworldandmotivate
actionsaccordingly(Prinz,2004b,p.225).
Thesetofstimulithatcanelicitagivenemotionarediverse.Prinzproposesthat
emotionelicitorsareunifiedbytheimpacttheyhaveonaperceiver.Forinstance,snakes,
emptybankaccounts,andearthquakesallelicitfear.Whilereasonsthosestimulievoke
fearvary,allfearinducingstimuliwillproduceasimilarsetofpatternedbodilychanges.
Themanydifferentcausesoffearareunitedbytheirimpactontheperceiverintowhat
Prinzcallsacalibrationfileforfear(2004b,p.100).Thecontentsofcalibrationfiles
includealloftherepresentationsthatcauseaparticularemotion(Prinz,2004b,p.100).
Thus,therearefilesforsadness,anger,fear,andsoon.Foreachoftheseemotions,there
aretwotypesofcalibrationfiles:onewhichishardwiredintheindividualbynatural
selection,andanotherthatresultsfromcognitiveappraisal(e.g.,learnedassociationsor


causalinferences).Inshort,calibrationfilescontainallofthecausesofemotions,which
havevariousetiologies.
Tosummarize,calibrationfilesforparticularemotionsspecifywhatwillcausethe
patternedbodilychangesthatareperceived,orregistered,andthenrepresentedintermsof
corerelationalthemes.Prinz(2004b)summarizeshisviewasfollows:Allemotionsare
embodiedappraisalsunderthecausalcontrolofcalibrationfiles(p.102).Thus,the
perceptionofasnaketriggersasetofphysiologicalresponses.Thispatternofresponsesis
containedwithinthecalibrationfileforfear.Whenparticularpatternsofphysiological
responseunfold,theyareappraisedinrelationtoacorerelationaltheme,whichis,inthis
case,danger.Thisappraisalofdangeristhenfeltasfear.Inotherwords,bodilychange
servesasabarometer,tunedbybothphylogenyandpersonalexperience,thatindicatesthe
prospectsforanindividualswellbeing.Together,thebodilychangesandtheappraisalof
themconstitutetheemotion.
Importantly,accordingtoPrinz,neitherregistrationofanemotionnorits
representationofacorerelationalthemeentailsconsciousawareness.Prinzstheory
entailsthatanattended,intermediatelevelrepresentationofastimulusissufficientforit
tobeconsciouslyperceived.Onthisaccount,attentiontovalencedstimulithatgeneratesan
intermediatelevelrepresentationwillproduceaconsciousemotion.
Prinz(2005a)derivesthisentailmentbetweenattention,intermediatelevel
representation,andconsciousexperiencefromhisgeneraltheoryofperceptionas,
"stimulusdetectionthroughasenseorgan"(p.1617).Prinz(2005a,n.d.)notesthatvisual
stimulicanbeprocessedsubliminally(e.g.incasesofblindsight)andinfersthatsubliminal
perceptionalsooccursinotherperceptualmodalities(2005a,p.23;n.d.p.9&45).Since


Prinzconsidersemotionstobeakindofperception(namely,thatofbodilychanges),he
infersthattheyareprocessedsimilarlytootherpercepts(n.d.,53).Inshort,heholdsthat
thereisacommonprocessthroughwhichperceptionunfolds,andthatthisisconserved
acrossperceptualmodalities(n.d.,6566).Thus,ifsubliminalvisualperceptionispossible,
soissubliminalperceptionofemotion.TofullyappreciatePrinzsreasoning,weneedto
delveintothedetailsofthehierarchicalmodelofperceptionthatinspiredPrinzstheory.
1.2MARRSHIERARCHICALMODELOFPERCEPTION
Prinzstheoryofconsciousversusnonconsciousperceptionisbasedonamodelof
hierarchicalprocessingsetforthbyDavidMarr(1982)andendorsedbyRayJackendoff
(1987).Thismodeldistinguishesthreestages,orlevels,ofperceptionofvisualperception.
Thelowestlevelisderiveddirectlyfromtheretinalimage(Jackendoff,1987,p.
170).Thislevelenablesdetectionofbasicfeaturesofapercept.Theseincludeedges,path
ofmotion,andregionswithconsistentfeaturesthatsetthemapartfromtherestofthe
visualfield(Jackendoff,1987,p.170).Thelowestlevelincludestherawprimalsketch,
whichparsesthevisualfieldintoprimitiveformssuchasblobsandbars,andtheprimal
sketch,whichrecombinestheseelementsrecursivelytoderivemorecomplexformsand
detailsfromtherawmaterialavailableintherawprimalsketch(Jackendoff,1987,p.171
173).Forinstance,clustersofsmalldotsmightbereconstitutedasatwodimensional
shape.Thisrecursiveprocessingcontinuesateachlevelofperceptualprocessing,sothat
eachlevelbuildsuponthecomponentsgeneratedatthepriorstage.AccordingtoPrinz


(n.d.),thelowestlevelcorrespondstoprocessinginprimaryareasofsensorycortex(e.g.,
V1,striatecortex)2(p.43).
Jackendoffspecifiesthatstimulusprocessingatthelowlevelisfragmentary:distinct
featuresareprocessedandrepresentedinparallel.Itisonlywhenprocessingadvancesto
theintermediate,or2.5D,levelthatthebraincanunifythosedistinctfeaturesintoa
coherentrepresentation.Jackendoff(1987)contendsthatthislevelofprocessingisthe
sourceofconsciousexperience(p.293).Atthispoint,stereopsis,motion,shading,surface
contours,andtexturegradientsareunified(Jackendoff,1987,p.173).Thisconjunctionof
inputsenablestwodimensionalobjectperception(Jackendoff,1987,p.174).This
processingunfoldsinareasofthebrainbeyondprimarysensorycortex.Theprecise
anatomyoftheintermediatelevelislikelytobecomplex,butPrinz(n.d.)tentatively
specifiesthatitinvolvesextrastriateareas(includingV2V5,aswellasV7andV8)(p.43).
Thethird,andhighest,levelofperception,calledthe3Dlevel,integratesobjects
intoabstractrepresentationsthataresituatedinthreedimensionalspace(Jackendoff,
1987,p.174;Prinz,2004b,p.208;Prinz,2005a,Feelings,p.21).Inaddition,atthislevel
itispossibletovisuallydecomposeobjectsintotheircomponentpartsandfeatures
(Jackendoff,1987,p.174).Prinz(n.d.)proposesthatthisstageofprocessingoccursin
inferiortemporalcortexandthelateraloccipitalcomplex(p.43).
Thismodelofperceptualprocessingishierarchicalinthesensethatitproceedsina
stepwisemanner,withrepresentationalcomplexityincreasingateachlevel.Withineach
level,morecomplexformsaregeneratedfromrecursiveprocessingofsimplerfeatures.
Importantly,Jackendoff(1987)specifiesthat,inthecourseofprocessing,higherlevel

2Presumably,Prinzisreferringtoorganizationofthehumanbrain,buthedoesnotmake
thisexplicit.


informationcanpassdownintothe2.5Dsketchandbeintegratedthere,butitispassed
downnofurther(p.188).Inotherwords,representationsfromtherawprimalandprimal
sketchescanonlymoveuptheprocessinghierarchy.Thus,thelowestlevelsareimmuneto
topdowneffects.
1.3THEROLEOFATTENTIONINCONSCIOUSEMOTIONS
Prinzappliesthishierarchicalframeworktohisaccountofemotionsasperceptions
ofbodilychanges.AccordingtoPrinz(2005a),thelowestlevelofaffectiveperception
registerschangesintheperipheralnervoussystemandhypothalamicpituitaryaxis(HPA)
circuit(thatis,whereheartandrespirationratesaremonitoredandcontrolled).These
lowlevelchangesinbodilyprocesses(i.e.,processesoutsidethecentralnervoussystem)
arenotsufficienttobringaboutemotion.Rather,intermediatelevelprocessingisneeded
tointegratetheselowlevelchangesintocoherentpatternsofbodilyresponsethatare
representedandperceivedasaparticulartypeofemotion(Prinz,2005a,p.22;Prinz,
2004b,p.209;Prinz,2005b,p.370371).3Prinz(2004b;n.d.)thenmakesthecrucial
proposalthatemotionsbecomeconsciouswhenattentionisaddedtoanintermediatelevel
emotionalrepresentation(2004b,p.242;n.d.,p.70)
ForPrinz(2004b;2005a),then,intermediatelevelprocessingisnecessaryfor
consciousemotion,butitisnotsufficient(2004b,p.209;2005a,p.23).Emotionscanbe
representedatthislevel,withoutgeneratingaconsciousexperience.Rather,onhisview,
anemotionwillbecomeconsciousonlyifthisprocessingisattended(2005b,p.374).
Indeed,Prinz(2005b)characterizesconsciousstatesasattendedintermediatelevel
representations(AIRs)(p.374).InPrinz'swords(n.d.),"AIRtheoristswilldenythatthere

3Prinzspeculatesthattheintermediatelevelisconstitutedbysecondarysomatosensory
cortex,insularcortex,andportionsoftheanteriorcingulatecortex(2005a,370).


canbeattentionwithoutconsciousness"(p.8687).Attentionplusanintermediatelevel
representationareindividuallynecessaryandjointlysufficientforconsciousness.Thisis
alsotrueforemotions.AccordingtotheAIRtheory,attentionandintermediatelevel
processingofbodilychangesareindividuallynecessaryandjointlysufficientforconscious
emotion.
InordertotestPrinz'shypothesisabouttheroleofattentioninconsciousversus
unconsciousemotion,itiscriticaltounderstandhowhedefinesattention.Inhis
forthcomingmanuscript,Prinz(n.d.)characterizesattentionasanyprocessthatmakes
perceptualrepresentationsavailabletoworkingmemory4(p.7778).Inparticular,he
claimsthat,"consciousnessariseswhenandonlywhenintermediatelevelrepresentations
undergochangesthatallowthemtobecomeavailabletoworkingmemory"(Prinz,n.d.,p.
78).
Prinz(n.d.)emphasizesthatattentionimpliesmereavailabilityto,andnot
necessarilyencodingorentryinto,workingmemory(p.94).AccordingtoPrinz(n.d.),
attentionisnotaspecificmechanismorprocess,butratheranoutcome:theavailabilityof
perceptstoworkingmemory(p.77).Importantly,availabilitydoesnotentailthatan
individualcanrecallwhatsheattendedandperceived.Thus,aperceptcanbeattendedand
consciouslyexperiencedwithoutbeingpreservedinworkingmemory.SincePrinz
considersattentiontobesufficientforconsciousness,hearguesthattheformerrenders
perceptsavailabletoworkingmemory,butdoesnotentailthattheywillbeencodedfor
futureaccess.

4Prinzdefinesworkingmemoryastheprocesswhichbriefly stores sensory information, by


maintaining, but not representing, it (Prinz, n.d., 25).

10


Prinzillustratesthisrelationshipbetweenattentionandworkingmemorywiththe
exampleofchangeblindness(n.d.,p.79).Changeblindnessoccurswhenaperceiver
carefullyscansacontinuouslychangingimage,butdoesnotdetectthechanges.Prinz
proposesthatthislapseinperceptionoccursbecausetheviewercannotrecallprecisely
whattheimagelookedlikebefore(n.d.,p.79).Inaddition,Prinzcontendsthatallofthe
elementswithintheimagewereconsciouslyperceived(and,therefore,attended),butthat
theywerenotencodedinworkingmemoryhencetheviewersinabilitytoidentify
differencesintheimagefromonemomenttothenext.Inthecaseofchangeblindness,a
perceiverattendstoandconsciouslyperceivesthecontentsofascene.However,shefails
torecallsomeofwhatshehasseen,becauseitwasnotencodedintoworkingmemory.
Prinztakesthisasevidencethatneitherattentionnorconsciousnessentailsencodingin
workingmemory.
Thisaccountofattentionisreferredtoasalateselectiontheory,becauseitsuggests
thatperceptualprocessingunfoldsindependentlyofattentionalmodulationuntilpercepts
reachtheintermediatelevel(Mole,2009).Atthatpoint,attentionfunctionsasthe
mechanismthatselectsperceptsforentryintoworkingmemory.Importantly,though,late
selectionmodelsassumethatlowlevelperceptualprocessingunfoldsintheabsenceof
attention.TheMarrJackendoffmodelsuggeststhatperceptsareonlyavailableto
attentionalmodulationoncetheygenerateintermediatelevelrepresentations(Jackendoff,
1987,p.188).
Prinz(n.d.)emphasizesthedistinctionbetweenattentionandacloselyrelated
process,calledorienting(p.88).Theorientingresponseinvolvestwophysiological
changes.Thefirstprocessiseyemovement,calledsaccades,whichshiftthepositionofthe

11


foveasothatafocalpointisseeninhighresolution.Thesecondprocessistheshrinkingof
receptivefieldsincellsthattransduceinputfromaparticularregioninordertohonein
onalocation(Prinz,n.d.,p.66&120).Bothofthesechangesenhanceperceptionofa
particularregioninspace.
Orientingandattentionhavedistinctperceptualand,typically,temporalimpacts.
Orientingdetermineswhatisperceivedbyfocusingthegazetoparticularregionsinspace.
Bycontrast,attentiondetermineshowperceptualprocessingunfolds.Orienting,then,
typicallyprecedesattention,bypreparingthenervoussystemtoprocesscertainstimuliin
greaterdetail.However,Prinz(n.d.)notesthatorientingandattentioncanbedissociated
(p.88).Forinstance,acue,suchasanarrow,mightcauseaviewertoorienthergazetoa
particularregionofspace.Thecolorofthearrowcouldinstructhertofocusonaparticular
featureoftheupcomingstimulus,suchasvalence,towhichshewouldthenattend.Upon
seeingthearrow,shewouldfirstorienthergazetoalocation,andthendirectherfocusto
processingthesemanticvalueofanysubsequentstimuli.
Prinz(n.d.)alsodifferentiatesattentionandorientinganatomically(p.8890).He
contendsthatattentionengagestheventralstream,whereasorientingactivatesthedorsal
stream.Thus,attentionwillhaveaneuralsignature:amplificationofventralstream
activity,whichdistinguishesattendedfromunattendedintermediatelevelrepresentations.
Heconcludesthatattentionrequiressimultaneousdorsalandventralstreamactivation,
whileorientingproducesonlydorsalstreamactivation(Prinz,n.d.,p.90).
Prinz(n.d.)worriesthatorientingisoftenmistakenforattention(p.8990).This
concernmakesitcriticallyimportantthatanytestoftheAIRtheorycarefullyseparate
attentionaleffectsfromthoseproducedbymereorienting.MytestoftheAIRtheoryaims

12


toavoidthisproblem.Iwillexplainhowitdoessowithinthesectionentitled,Prinzs
LikelyCriticismsoftheTestandItsResults.
Insummary,Prinzdefinesattentionastheprocessthatmakesperceptsavailableto
workingmemory.Hedistinguishesattentionfromorienting,specifyingthatthelatter
precedestheformerandgeneratesenhanceddorsalstreamactivity.Incontrast,attention
isdistinguishedbyactivationoftheventralstream.Heclaimsthatorienting,which
increasesdorsalstreamactivity,precedesattention,andthatthelattercanbeidentified
fromincreasedventralstreamactivity.Importantly,PrinzsubscribestoMarrand
Jackendoffsmodelofperceptualprocessing,andsohepresumablygrantsthatlowlevel
perceptualprocessingisnotmodulatedbyattention.
RecallthatPrinz(2004b)specifiesthatemotionsarerepresentationsofbodily
changesthataretriggeredbyacondition,eitherrealorimagined,thatisperceivedtobe
relevanttoanindividualswellbeing(p.6062).Whenthatperceptengagesacore
relationalthemeandgeneratesanintermediatelevelrepresentation,itconstitutesan
emotion.However,theAIRtheorystipulatesthatonlyattendedintermediatelevel
representationsbecomeconscious.Therefore,unattendedemotionsarenecessarily
unconscious,whereasattendedemotionsbecomeconscious.AccordingtoPrinz,an
attendedintermediatelevelrepresentationofavalencedstimulusisthusbothnecessary
andsufficientforconsciousemotion.
2PRELIMINARYTHREATSTOTHEAIRTHEORY

Asdescribedintheprevioussection,theAIRtheoryofconsciousnessimpliesthat

attentionandconsciousnessaretightlyconnected.InthissectionIillustrateabodyof
researchthatappearstoshowthatsubliminallypresented,valencedstimulicanbe

13


modulatedbyattentionwithoutbecomingconscious.Thesefindingsconstituteachallenge
totheAIRtheory,becausePrinzspecifiesthatattentiontoanintermediatelevel
representationissufficienttoproduceaconsciousperception.
2.1ANOTEONNOMENCLATURE
Toproperlyintroducethisexperimentalliterature,Iwillfirstclarifyhowsomekey
termswillbeusedinwhatfollows,andontheexperimentalparadigmcommonlyusedto
distinguishbetweenconsciousandunconsciousinformationprocessing.Iclarifythe
nomenclatureinthissection,andthenintroducetheexperimentalparadigminthenext.
(a)Emotion:thetermemotionwillbeusedaccordingtoPrinzs(2004b)
stipulations,whichdesignateintermediatelevelrepresentationsofpatternedbodily
changesthatresultfromtheperceptionofastimulusthatisimportanttotheindividuals
wellbeingasemotions(p.60).Registrationofanemotionreferstodetectionofapatternof
bodilychangestriggeredbyavalencedstimulus.Theemotionthatisregisteredrepresents
anappraisalofwhatthatstimulusimpliesfortheindividualswellbeing.Neither
registrationnorrepresentationofanemotionentailsconsciousexperience.
Toillustrate,recalltheearlieraccountofasnakethatcausesfear.Theperceptionof
asnakegeneratesasetofphysiologicalchanges.Ifthesechangesarerepresentedatthe
intermediatelevel,theyelicittheemotionoffear.Thefearrepresentsthedangerthatthe
snakeposestotheperceiver.AccordingtoPrinz,thisentireprocesstheperceptionofthe
snake,thesubsequentbodilychanges,andtherepresentationofdangercanunfold
withoutproducingaconsciousfeelingoffear.
(b)Aconsciousemotionisanemotionthatisconsciouslyexperienced.Thewhatits
likenessofconsciousemotionsarecalledfeelings.Forinstance,seeingasnakemight

14


producesensations,suchastrembling,shortnessofbreath,acceleratedheartrate,andthe
urgetorunaway.Ifthesearefelt,thefearisconsciouslyexperienced.However,allofthose
sensationscouldremainbelowthethresholdofconsciousawareness.Unconsciousemotions
donotgenerateaconsciousfeeling.Throughoutthethesis,thetermssubliminaland
unconsciousareusedinterchangeably:bothrefertocognitiveprocessesthatdonot
generateaphenomenologicalcomponent.Bycontrast,supraliminalandconscious
processesaredistinguishedbytheirphenomenologicalcomponents.
(c)Valenceisthehedonicqualityofastimulus,whichfallsonthespectrumof
negativetopositive,or,putotherwise,displeasuretopleasure(Prinz,2004b,p.161;
Damasio,1999;Barrett,2008).Forexample,snakesaretypicallyconsideredtobe
repulsive,orbad.Bycontrast,kittensareperceivedasbeingpleasant.Therefore,snakes
aredescribedashavinganegativevalence,whereaskittensarepositivelyvalenced.Stimuli
alsodifferinthedegreeoftheirvalence:kittensmightbemoderatelypositive,whereas
winningthelotterywouldlikelybeextremelypositive.
(d)Arousalreferstotheintensityofresponseinducedbyastimulus(GutReactions,
161;Damasio,1999;Barrett,2008).Stimulithatproducestrongreactionsarehigharousal,
whereasthosethatgeneratemildreactionsarelowarousal.Toillustratethedistinction,
considerthedifferenceinthedegreesofreactiontoagrizzlybearoraspider.Typically,the
grizzlywillevokeapowerfulresponse,whereasthespiderwillproduceamildormoderate
reaction.Veryfewpeoplewillrun,fullspeed,awayfromaspider.Tocontrast,
encounteringagrizzlybearwillpromptmostpeopletogetfarawayasquicklyaspossible.
Thisreflectsthedifferenceinarousalofthetwostimuli.

15


Importantly,thevalenceandarousalproducedbyastimulusareorthogonaltoeach
other.Thatis,thevalenceofastimulusisindependentofitslevelofarousal.Toillustrate
thisseparability,imaginereadinganewspaperarticleaboutagenocideunfoldingina
distantcountry.Whilethisarticlewouldlikelyinducegreatdispleasure(extremenegative
valence)inthereader,itwouldprobablynotcausehertojumpoutofherchair,react
violently,scream,oralterherimmediateplanofactioninanyway.Thearticle,although
upsetting,isnothighlyarousing.Comparethistothegrizzlybear,whichisbothstrongly
negativeandhighlyarousing.Thebearandthenewspaperarticlearebothnegatively
valenced,buttheyproducedifferentlevelsofarousal.Somestimuliarebothstrongly
valencedandhighlyarousing,whileothersareneutralinvalencebutalsohighlyarousing,
orviceversa.
2.2THEMASKEDSTIMULUSPROCESSINGPARADIGM
Anexperimentalmethodthatisoftenusedfortheempiricalstudyofconsciousand
unconsciousprocessingiscalledthemaskedstimulusprocessingparadigm(MSPP).In
MSPPs,amethodcalledvisualmaskingisusedtopresentstimuliinawaythatleadsto
subliminalprocessing(Balconi&Mazza,2009;Gibbons,2009;Greenwaldetal.,2003;Kiss
&Eimer,2008;Marcel,1983b).Toensuresubliminalprocessing,thestimulus,calleda
prime,ispresentedveryrapidly(typicallyforlessthan50ms).Commonlyusedprimes
includepicturesandwords.Primesareoftenimmediatelyfollowedbyamaskingstimulus,
calledabackwardmask,suchasastringofsymbols(e.g.,$#&!).Themaskisthoughtto
overwritethevisualrepresentationofthestimulusinworkingmemory(Marcel,1983b).
Typically,themaskisfollowedbyaconsciouslyperceivedstimulus,calledatarget.Targets
areoftenofthesamegenre,e.g.picturesorwords,astheprimes,buttheyneednotbe.

16


Typically,participantsareinstructedtomakeadecisioninresponsetothetarget.The
purposeofMSPPsistotesthowthissequenceofstimuluspresentationimpactssubsequent
behaviorandcognition.
AcriticalfeatureofMSPPsisthattheprimeisonlyavailableforsubliminal
processing.Therefore,theoptimaldurationforaprimeisonethatpreventsthestimulus
fromenteringconsciousawareness,butallowssufficienttimefornonconsciousdetection
andprocessingoffeaturesrelevanttotheexperimentaltask.Inmanycontexts,stimulus
durationsofapproximately1756mswillmeetthesecriteria(Balconi&Mazza,2009;
Gibbons,2009;Greenwaldetal.,2003;Kiss&Eimer,2008;Marcel,1983b).Inthesecases,
participantsperformatchancerateswhenaskedtoidentifytheprime,andtheyoftendeny
havingseenthestimulusatall(Balconi&Mazza,2009;Gibbons,2009;Greenwaldetal.,
2003;Kiss&Eimer,2008;Marcel,1983a).Inotherwords,whenprimesarepresented
brieflyandfollowedbyamask,theperceiverhasnoexperience,eitherimmediateor
recalled,oftheprime.Hence,itisinferredthatprocessingoftheprimeisfullysubliminal.
Elsewhere,Prinz(2007)hasrejectedclaimsthatconsciousstatescanbe
unreportable(p.522).Therefore,heshouldconcurthattheprimespresentedinproperly
designedmaskedstimulusprocessingparadigmsareperceivedandprocessed
subconsciously(2004b,p.204).Thismannerofstimuluspresentationprovidesawayto
testPrinzsclaimsabouttheentailmentbetweenattentionandconsciousness:subliminally
processedprimesshouldnotshowanyeffectsofattentionmanipulations.

Todate,thereisabodyofexperimentalresultsfromMSPPsthatshowsthatprimes

canimpactbehavior(Balconi&Mazza,2009;Eckstein&Perrig,2007;Greenwaldetal.,
2003;Kiss&Eimer,2008;Marcel,1983b).Inparticular,thepresenceorabsenceofaprime

17


canaffecttheresponsetoasubsequent,consciouslyperceivedtarget.Whentheprimeand
thetargetshareaparticularfeature(e.g.,color,shape,ormeaning),thentheyaresaidtobe
relatedwithrespecttothatfeature.Forexample,thewordsfoundandpoundshare
manyofthesameletters,sotheycanbecharacterizedasorthographicallyrelated.Prime
targetpairsthatdifferalongthedimensionofinterestintheexperimentaresaidtobe
unrelated.Forinstance,thewordscometanddishwasherareorthographically
unrelated.Acommonfindingisthatrelatedprimetargetpairselicitfasterandmore
accurateresponsesonexperimentaltasks,whencomparedwithunrelatedpairs.Effects
appearintheprimesimpactonasubsequent,intentionaltask,suchasacategory
judgment.Thismodulationoftaskperformanceiscalledaprimingeffect,orsimplypriming.
Inanutshell,whenprimesandtargetsarecongruentonafeatureofinterest,theprimewill
generallyfacilitateclassificationofthetargetwithrespecttothatfeature.

IwillnowpresenttheresultsoftwoMSPPsthatchallengePrinzsaccountofthe

relationshipbetweenattentionandconsciousness.Bothstudiessuggestthatsubliminally
processedprimesareselectivelyattendedaccordingtoparticipantsconsciousintentionto
completeaspecifictask.Ifthisiscorrect,thentheresultsofthesestudiesconstitutea
threattotheAIRtheory.SincetheAIRtheoryspecifiesthatattentionentailsconscious
perception,itdeniesthatsubliminallyperceptioncanbemodulatedbyattention.Thus,the
resultsoftheseMSPPstudiesrequirecarefulexaminationinordertodeterminewhether
theysuggestfalsificationoftheAIRtheory.
Thefirststudy,conductedbyGreenwaldetal.(2003),demonstratedthatsubliminal
primesareevaluatedaccordingtobothshorttermassociationslearnedduringthe
experimentandparticipantsconsciousintentiontocompleteparticularexperimental

18


tasks.Theseresultssuggestthatsubliminalprocessingisadaptive.Itcanrespondtoboth
recentlylearnedassociationsandconsciousintentions.Inthisstudy,theintentionwasto
classifynumbersinaparticularway.Inaddition,participantslearnedassociationsbetween
singledigitsandnumericvalue.Boththeselearnedassociationsandtheparticipantsfocus
onataskmodulatedhowdifferentprimesinfluencedprocessingofthetargets.Ifthisis
correct,itsuggeststhatattentioncanbedeployedtosubliminalprimeswithoutgenerating
aconsciousexperience.
Theexperimentfollowedthebasicsequenceofamaskedstimulusprocessing
paradigm:asubliminalprimeappearedfirst,followedbyabackwardmask,andthena
target,towhichparticipantsissuedaresponse.Theparticipantstaskwastoclassify
numbersasgreaterorlessthan55.Allnumbersweretwodigits.Participantscompleted
practicetrialsbeforetheexperimentaltrials.Inalltrials,theprimeswereonlyavailablefor
subliminalprocessing,andthetargetswereconsciouslyperceived.
Duringpracticetrials,thenumbersevenalwaysappearedinthesecondpositionofa
twodigitprimethatwaslessthan55(e.g.,17,27,37,or47).Then,duringtheexperimental
trials,7onlyappearedinthefirstpositionofaprime.Therefore,anyprimethatcontained
7wasgreaterthan55(e.g.,74,77,or79).
Iftheprimeswerenotbeingselectivelyattended,thentheappearanceof7inthe
primeshouldnothaveimpactedresponsetothesubsequenttarget.However,theprimes
facilitatedorinhibitedthereactiontimeandaccuracyfortargetclassificationaccordingto
thelearnedassociationnottheactualrelationshipoftheprimeto55.Whenprimes
contained7inthefirstposition(e.g.70or78),theyinhibitedresponsestotargetsgreater
than55,butfacilitatedresponsestotargetslessthan55.Thisresultsuggeststhatsingle

19


digitsfromthetwodigitprimesandtargetswereselectivelyattendedinaccordancewitha
newlylearnedassociation.
Theseresultsdemonstratethatsubliminalprocessingisresponsivetobothrecent
learningandfinegrainedtasks,suchasidentifyingonedigitcontainedwithinatwodigit
number.Theexperimentaldesignpittedparticipantsexplicitknowledgeaboutanumber
(e.g.,that77isgreaterthan55)againsttherecentlylearnedassociationbetween7anda
valuelessthan55.Theresultssuggestthatthoseassociationsdidimpactsubliminal
processing,eventhoughtheycontradictedparticipantsexistingknowledgeaboutnumber
values.Inotherwords,thefindingsdemonstratethatsubliminalprocessingisplastic:even
learningthatoccurswithinasingleexperimentcanalterhowitunfolds.
Theexperimentalsotestedhowtheintentiontocompleteaparticulartaskimpacts
subliminalprocessing.Newlyformulatedassociationsbetweensingledigits(like7)and
theabsolutevalueofthetwodigitnumberthatcontainedthosedigitsaffectedthe
classificationoftargets.Thissuggeststhattheprimeswereselectivelyattended.Thatis,
theywereevaluatedforthepresenceofadigitwithwhichparticipantshadlearnedan
associationtodeterminewhetherthenumberwasgreaterorlessthan55.Thissuggests
thatattentioncanimpactsubliminalprocessingwithoutengenderinganyconscious
awareness.Ifthisinterpretationiscorrect,itcontradictstheAIRtheorysentailmentthat
attentionissufficientforconsciousness.

Thefindingthatsubliminallyprocessedperceptscanbeselectivelyattended

challengestheAIRtheorygenerally.Inaddition,thereisabodyofresearchthat
investigatestherelationshipbetweenvalence,attention,andconsciousnessviaMSPPs.The

20


resultsofthesestudiesareasourceofevidenceregardingtheaccuracyofPrinzsaccount
ofemotionperception.
Valencedstimuli,particularlynegative,isknowntocaptureattention,suchthata
stronglyvalencedstimuluswillbeattendedunderconditionsinwhichamoreneutral
stimuluswouldnot(Yiend,2010).Therefore,ifstronglyvalencedstimuliareembedded
withinanMSPP,itmaybefoundthatthetypesofsubliminalattentioneffectsdocumented
byGreenwaldetal.donotappear.Thus,embeddingvalencedstimuliwithinanMSPP
makesforanespeciallychallengingtestoftheextentofattentioneffectsonsubliminal
processing.Ifconsciousintentionscanmodulatesubliminalprocessinginspiteofstrong
competitionfromattentiongrabbingvalencedstimuli,thatwillconstituterobustevidence
forattentionalmodulationofsubliminalprocessing.Theresultsofthesestudiesbear
directlyonPrinzsclaimthatattentiondistinguishesconsciousandunconsciousemotion.
EcksteinandPerrig(2007)testedtherelationshipbetweenaconscioustask,
stimulusvalence,andsubliminalprocessingofwordsusinganMSSP.Theymeasuredthe
impactofprimetargetcongruityalongtwodimensions,valenceandanimacy,onboth
reactiontimeandaccuracy.Animacyreferstowhetherthewordrepresentssomething
living(animate)ornonliving(inanimate).Participantsweretaskedwithidentifying
eitherthevalenceortheanimacyofthetargetword.Allprimesandtargetswereeither
negativeorpositive,andeitheranimateorinanimate.Forinstance,babyisbothpositive
andanimate,whereashellisbothnegativeandinanimate.
Inthefirstexperiment,participantscompletedtrialsinwhichtheyalternately
classifiedtargetwordsaccordingtovalenceoranimacy.Primetargetcongruencyonthe
dimensionofinteresthadasignificanteffectonreactiontime.Whenparticipantswere

21


instructedtoclassifywordsbasedonanimacy,theirresponseswerefasterandmore
accuratewhentheprimeandtargetwereanimacycongruent(e.g.,whentheprimewas
babyandthetargetwasbug).Similarly,valencecongruentprimetargetpairings
improvedperformanceduringthevalencetask:theprimeheavenincreasedthe
probabilityofafast,accurateresponsetothetargetbaby.
Asecondexperimentextendedthefirsttaskbycompoundingthefourpossible
responses(positive,negative,animate,orinanimate)intotwo.Participantsevaluated
targetstodetermineiftheywerebothpositiveandanimateornegativeandinanimate.
Onceagain,thereweresignificanteffectsofprimetargetcongruity.Thatis,whenaprime
andatargetwerebothpositiveanimate,orbothnegativeinanimate,responsestothe
targetwerefasterandmoreaccurate.Thus,theprimebabyspeededresponsetothe
targetkitten,becausebothwordsrepresentpositive,animateentities.
Finally,athirdexperimentfurthercomplicatedparticipantstaskbyreturningtothe
valenceoranimacyjudgmenttask,butswitchingtasksevery16trials.Inspiteofthistask
switching,primingeffectswerestillsignificant.Inotherwords,eventhoughparticipants
onlyfocusedontheanimacy,orthevalence,ofthetargetwordfor16trialsatatime,the
congruityoftheprimeandtargetonthedimensionofintereststillimpactedresponsetime
andaccuracy.Thisresultdemonstratesthatsubliminalprocessingrespondsrapidlyto
shiftsinconsciousintentions.
Theseresultssuggestthatsubliminalprimesareattendedaccordingtothe
consciousintentiontocompleteparticulartasks.Primesfacilitateprocessingoftargets
whenthetwoarecongruentontheattendeddimension.Thefindingsalsodemonstratethe
flexibilityofsubliminalattention:primingeffectsweredocumentedevenwhentaskswere

22


combined,andwhentheywerefrequentlychanged.Inaddition,theseresultsshowthatthe
intentiontocompleteataskmodulatesattentionatthelevelofsubliminalprocessing,in
spiteoftheattentiongrabbingeffectsofstronglyvalencedwords.
Together,theresultsoftheGreenwaldetal.andtheEcksteinandPerrigstudies
suggestthatsubliminalprocessingcanbemodulatedbyconsciousintentions,suchasto
classifytargetsalongaparticulardimension.Alikelycauseoftheseeffectsisselective
attention.Ifthisexplanationoftheresultsiscorrect,thenthereisreasontothinkthat
attentionaloneisnotsufficientforconsciousness.Thatis,sincethesestudiesshowthat
subliminallyprocessedprimesareselectivelyattended,butdonotgenerateconscious
experience,theychallengetheAIRtheory.RecallthatPrinzclaimsthatattentionisjointly
necessaryandsufficientforconsciousness.Ifprimesareattendedwithoutgenerating
consciousawareness,thisoutcomemakestheAIRtheoryuntenable.Beforeconcludingthat
findingsfromMSPPsinvalidatetheAIRtheory,though,theyshouldbeextendedtoaddress
allofPrinzsspecificationsregardingthesufficiencyofattentionforconsciousness.
3ATESTOFPRINZSAIRTHEORY
PrinzsAIRtheoryimpliesthatattentionandconsciousnessaretightlyconnected,in
thesensethattheformeristhemechanismthatrendersintermediatelevel
representationsconscious.Bycontrast,priorworkdemonstratesthatsubliminally
processedstimulicanbeselectivelyattendedwithoutgeneratinganyconsciousexperience
(Eckstein&Perrig,2007;Greenwaldetal.,2003).TheseresultsthreatenPrinzsclaimthat
attentiontoanintermediatelevelrepresentationissufficienttorenderitconscious,since
theprimespresentedinthoseexperimentsappeartohavebeenattended.However,
neithertheGreenwaldetal.northeEcksteinandPerrigstudiesdemonstratedthatthe

23


subliminalprimesgeneratedanintermediatelevelneuralrepresentation.Inorderto
evaluatetheimpactofthesestudiesontheAIRtheory,itisnecessarytodemonstratethat
anintermediatelevelrepresentationwasgeneratedbythesubliminallyprocessedprimes.5
TodeterminewhethertheAIRtheoryaccuratelycharacterizesthedistinctionbetween
consciousandunconsciousemotion,itshouldbetestedwithemotionallysalientstimuli.
ThegoaloftheproposedworkistoreplicateandextendpriorMSPPresultsbytestingthe
claimthatattentiontoanaffectivelychargedstimuluswillproduceconsciousemotion.
OnewaytotesttheAIRtheoryistoexaminetheimpactofaconsciousintention,
operationalizedasatask,onsubliminallyprocessedstimuli.Thetheorypredictsthat
attentiontoaparticularfeaturewillnotimpactsubliminalprocessingofstimuli,unlessthe
stimuligenerateconsciousawareness(Prinz,n.d.).RecallthatPrinzstipulatesthat
attendedintermediatelevelrepresentationsarejointlynecessaryandsufficientfor
consciousness.Thisentailmentbetweenattentionandconsciousnessisvulnerableto
evidencethatattentiontosubliminallyprocessedstimulithatgenerateintermediatelevel
representationsdoesnotnecessarilyproduceaconsciousexperience.ResultsfromMSPPs,
suchasthoseemployedbyGreenwaldetal.andEcksteinandPerrig,suggestthatconscious
intentioncanmodulatesubliminalprocessing.However,theseresultscannotprovide
evidencethattheprimesgeneratedintermediatelevelrepresentations.Thus,itcanbe
arguedthattheresultsdonotdirectlychallengetheAIRtheory.Addingneuroimaging
measurestoaMSPPcanresolvethequestionofwhetherprimesgenerateintermediate
levelrepresentations.

5RecallPrinzsstipulationthatanattended,intermediatelevelrepresentationofapercept
isjointlynecessaryandsufficienttoproduceaconsciousrepresentation.

24


Electroencephalography(EEG)isanidealtoolforaddressingthequestionof
intermediatelevelrepresentation.Electroencephalogramrecordingsaffordfinegrained
temporalresolutionandsensitivitytothespatialdistributionofelectrophysiological
activityinthebrain.AnalysisofEEGdatafromprimingparadigmsmaydeterminewhether
primeperceptionsatisfiesPrinzsintermediatelevelrepresentationrequirement.Such
datacanhelptodeterminewhethersubliminalprimesmodulateactivationinregionsof
thebrainthatPrinzspecifiesareresponsibleforintermediatelevelperceptualprocessing.
Inaddition,EEGdatacanbeevaluatedtoaddressPrinzsclaimthatattentionamplifies
ventralstreamactivity.6Finally,EEGcandetectsubtledifferencesinboththetimecourse
(whenthebrainismostactive)andspatialdistribution(wherethebrainismostactive)of
perceptualprocessingbetweendifferentconditions.Thismayrevealdifferencesin
cognitiveprocessesthatarenotapparentfrombehavioralmeasures.Itcanalsodetermine
whetherintermediatelevelregionsofthebrainwereactive.
WordsareidealstimuliforthistestoftheAIRtheory.Thesamewordwillevoke
distinctpatternsofneuralactivityaccordingtowhatfeaturesofthestimulusareattended
(Bentinetal.,1999).Forinstance,awordthatprocessedattheorthographic(visual)level
willgenerateadifferentpatternofneuralactivitythanhaditbeenprocessedatthe
semanticlevel.Thesepatternsarecalledevokedresponsepotentials(ERPs)andcanbe
consideredneuralsignaturesofparticularlevelsofprocessing.Thus,neuralresponsesto
wordstimulidifferaccordingtothelevelatwhichthewordisprocessed.
Bentinetal.(1999)usedEEGtodemonstratethatattentiontoparticularlinguistic
featuresofwordsmodulatesneuralactivity.Thatis,thebrainshoweddistinctresponse

6RecallthatPrinzbelievesthatorientingisoftenmistakenforattention,andthatthelatter
canbedistinguishedfromtheformerbyventralstreamactivation.

25


patternsduringdifferenttasks,evenwhenthesamesetsofwordswerepresentedacross
tasks.Thesepatternsweremeasuredasshiftsintheamplitudeandlocationof
electrophysiologicalactivity.Forinstance,whenparticipantsattendedtovisual
(orthographic)featuresofwords,alargeoccipitotemporalresponseoccurred
approximately170msafterstimuluspresentation,andwaseitheramplifiedordiminished
accordingtowhetherthewordwasorthographicallyanomalousornot.ThisERPiscalled
theN170(Bentinetal.,1999).TheN170wasamplifiedforanomalousversusexpected
stimuli.
Incontrast,whenparticipantsattentionwasdirectedtosemanticaspectsofthe
stimuli,theorthographicproprietyofastimulusdidnotaffecttheN170.Instead,awords
valueaccordingtoanabstractversusconcretesemanticjudgmentmodulatedan
electrophysiologicalresponseinmedialtemporal,temporalparietal,andfrontocentral
regionsapproximately400msafterstimuluspresentation.ThisERPiscalledtheP400
(Bentinetal.,1999).Whenattentionwasdirectedtoasemanticjudgment,theP400
componentwasamplifiedordiminishedaccordingtowhetherthestimuluspossessesthe
featureofinterest.ThecriticalpointisthatmodulationofspecificERPcomponents
constitutesevidenceofattentiontoaparticularleveloflinguisticprocessing.
Theseresultsshowthattask,operationalizedascategorizationofstimulus
accordingtoparticularfeatures,modulatestheERPsgeneratedwhenprocessingword
stimuli.Again,recallthattheP400componentwasonlymodulatedduringthesemantic
task,andtheN170wasonlymodulatedduringtheorthographictaskeventhoughthe
samesetofstimuliwaspresentedinbothtasks.Thus,theP400providesaneural
signatureofsemanticprocessing,whiletheN170isasignatureoforthographic

26


processing.Basedontheseresults,Bentinetal.concludedthattaskspecificmodulationof
ERPcomponentsshowsthatparticipantattentionwasdirectedtoaparticularlevelof
processing.
AcriticalassumptionoftheBentinetal.paradigmisthatwhenparticipantsare
instructedtoattendtoafeature,theydoso.However,itispossiblethatbeingaskedto
attendtofeatureXatfuturetimes(t)doesnotmeanthatanindividualisattendingtoXatt,
evenifherbrainandbehavioraredifferentattthantheywouldhavebeenhadshenot
beenaskedtodoso.Thebehavioraloutcomescouldresultfromsomeothermental
process.Thispossibilitycannotbeeliminated,giventhatthereisnowaytodirectly
measureintentions.Aparsimoniousinterpretationoftheevidence(therelationship
betweentaskandbehavioraloutcomes)suggeststhatwhenanattentionmanipulation(e.g.,
theinstructiontoclassifywordsaccordingtoparticularfeatures)doesalterbehavioral
outcomes,thenthoseoutcomesarelikelytheresultofherattentiontothatfeature.Itisnot
clearhowelsetoaccountforthedifferenceinbehavior,giventhatthiseffectobtainsacross
manyparticipants.
Bentinetal.sfindingthatattendingtospecificfeaturesofwordsproducesdistinct
ERPsignaturesprovidesameansfordeterminingwhetherconsciousintentionsmodulate
subliminalprocessing.Ifparticipantsattentionisdirectedtoaleveloflinguisticprocessing
knowntogenerateparticularERPpatterns,thentheresponsetoprimesembeddedwithin
anMSPPcanbeevaluatedtodetermineifthatERPwasmodulated.Ifso,thatoutcome
constitutesevidencethattheprimeswereattendedaccordingtotheconsciousintentionto
completeaspecifictask.Inaddition,theEEGdatacanhelpdetermineiftherequirement
forintermediatelevelactivationwassatisfied,bydeterminingwhatregionsofthebrain

27


wereactiveduringthetask.ThisapproachtherebyprovidesameansoftestingtheAIR
theory.
3.1THEPRESENTSTUDY
3.1.1GoalsandHypotheses
Inthisstudy,I7examinehowattention,operationalizedasafocusonalinguistic
categorizationtask,modulatesemotionwordprimingeffects.RecallthatPrinz(n.d.)allows
thatattentionmanifestsinmultipleways(e.g.,vigilance,selection,andpopouteffects),
andthathespecifiesthatallinstancesofattentionmakeperceptsavailabletoworking
memory(p.7476).Thiscriterionisdifficulttooperationalize:itisnotclearhowtotestfor
availabilitywithoutencoding.IcontendthatPrinzshouldgrantthatinstructing
participantstocompleteparticulartaskswillshiftthefeaturestowhichtheyattend.
Thepresentexperimentpresentedatotalof240wordstimulithatwereeither
wordswithnegativelyvalenced(negativevalence)andhighlyarousing(higharousal)
connotations(suchasbullet,cancer,murder,andcoffin),orwordswithneutralvalence
(neutralvalence)andlowarousal(lowarousal)connotations(e.g.,gentle,peace,calm,
andplain)inaMSPP.Table1detailsthewordproperties.Primeswerepresentedvery
rapidly(35ms)andmaskedtoensurethattheywouldnotbeprocessedataconscious
level.BothERPandbehavioralmeasureswereusedtodeterminewhetherattentiontothe
wordsvalencewouldelicitneuralactivitythatwasdistinctfromthatproducedwhen
participantsfocusedontheorthographicfeatures(case)ofthesamewords.Thegoalwasto
testwhethermodulationofattentioncanaffectresponsestothesubliminalprimes.

7ThisworkwascarriedoutunderthedirectionofDr.GwenFrishkoff(BELLSLab,Departmentof
Psychology&NeuroscienceInstitute,GSU).

28


Ihadthreespecifichypotheses.Thefirstwasthattaskcongruency(e.g.same
valenceorsamecase)ofagivenprimetargetwordpairwouldmodulatereactiontimes.
Second,Ihypothesizedthatthetaskcongruency(e.g.,samevalenceorsamecase)ofa
givenprimetargetwordpairwouldmodulateERPcomponentsassociatedwith
orthographic(case)andsemantic(valence)levelsofprocessing.Third,Ipredictedthatthe
taskcongruency(e.g.,samevalenceorsamecase)ofagivenprimetargetwordpairwould
modulateventralstreamactivity.
3.1.2TheParticipants
FortytwoparticipantswererecruitedfromtheGeorgiaStateUniversityparticipant
pooltotakepartinthestudy(20men;22women)8.Allparticipantswererighthanded,
nativeEnglishspeakers,withnormalorcorrectedtonormalvision,withnoknown
neurologicalabnormalities,andnohistoryofreadingorlanguagedisorders.Allgave
informedconsentpriortoparticipationandreceivedacademiccoursecredit,payment,or
both.

AllparticipantscompletedtheEdinburghHandednessInventory(EHI)andthestate

PositiveandNegativeAffectScale(PANAS)priortotheexperiment.9Inaddition,
participantscompletedadditionalstatePANASinventoriesaftercompletingthefirsttask,
andagainattheendoftheexperiment.Finally,participantscompletedaquestionnaireon
whichtheywereaskedtorespondtothreeprompts:didtheyemployanystrategiesto

8Fiveparticipantswereexcludedfrombehavioralanalysesbecausetheirdatawasnot
processedintimeforinclusioninthisdocument.TenparticipantswereexcludedfromERP
analyses:fivefortheforegoingreason,andfiveduetopoorqualityEEGrecordings.
9TheEHIdeterminesparticipantshandedness(thatis,thedegreetowhichtheyareright
handed),whilethePANASmeasuresemotionaltemperament.

29


completetheexperiment,ifanystimulihadprecededthetargetwords,andwhetherthey
hadadditionalthoughtsorcommentsabouttheexperiment.
3.1.3TheParadigm
Participantsviewedasequenceoftwowordspresentedonacomputermonitor.The
firstwordwastheprimeforasubsequenttargetword.Participantsinitiatedtrialsby
pressingtheleftandrightkeystogether.Alltrialswereselfpaced,sothatparticipants
couldrestasneeded.Onceatrialwasinitiated,acentralfixationpoint(a+sign)appeared
for500ms.Thispointwasreplacedbyabackwardmasker(backwardmask)(50ms),a
primeword(35ms),aforwardmask(20ms),aninterwordinterval(15ms),andthe
targetword(3000ms).Participantsthenhad3000ms(thedurationofthetargetword
presentation)torespond.Thetotaltimeelapsedbetweenpresentationoftheprimeand
onsetofthetargetwas70ms(stimulusonsetasynchrony).Figure1illustratesthetiming
andorderofstimuluspresentation.

30

Figure1:TimingandOrderofStimulusPresentation10

3.1.4TheTask
Allstimuliwerepresentedonacomputerscreen,inlightgreyfontagainstablack
background.Participantssatapproximately50cmfromthecomputermonitor.Afour
buttonresponseboxwasplacedonthetableinfrontofthem.Stimuluspresentationwas
controlledbyEprimesoftware,whichisastandardtoolforrecordingresponsetimeand
accuracy.
Theexperimentconsistedofavalenceclassificationtaskandacaseclassification
task.Halftheparticipantscompletedthevalencetaskfirst,andhalfcompletedthecasetask
first.Participantssattentionwasmodulatedbyovertinstructionstofocusonaparticular
dimensionofthetargetword(orthographicorsemantic).Inonecondition,theirtaskwas
todetermine,asquicklyaspossible,whetherthetargetwaspresentedinupper(e.g.,SILK)
orlowercase(silk)(orthographictask).Intheothercondition,theirtaskwastoclassify

10IWIreferstointerwordinterval,whichindicatesthedurationofablankscreen
betweentheoffsetofthebackwardsmaskandthetargetword.

31


eachwordasbeingeitherpositive(peace)ornegative(cancer)(valencetask).Altogether,
participantscompleted960trials.
Beforecompletingthecasetask,participantsweretoldtoclassifywordsaccording
towhetherthewordwaspresentedinupperorlowercase.Participantswereinstructedto
pressaspecificbutton(eitherleftorrightmost)onaresponseboxifthewordwasupper
case,andtheotherbutton(leftorrightmost)ifthewordwaslowercase.11Next,
participantswerethenguidedthroughtwosampletrials.Theythencompletedablockof
eightpracticetrialswithfeedback(correctorincorrect)beforestartingtheexperimental
trials.Inall,eachparticipantcompleted480experimentaltrials.
Beforecompletingthevalencetask,participantswereinstructedthattheywereto
classifywordsaccordingtowhetherthewordwasnegative(e.g.,bullet,cancer,murder,or
coffin),orneutraltopositive(e.g.,gentle,peace,calm,orplain).Participantsweretoldto
pressaspecificbutton(eitherleftorrightmost)onaresponseboxifthewordwas
negative(e.g.,murder),andtheotherbutton(leftorrightmost)ifthewordwasneutral
(e.g.,gentle).Participantswereguidedthroughtwosampletrials,completedablockof
eightpracticetrialswithfeedback(correctorincorrect),andthencompleted480
experimentaltrials.
3.1.5TheStimuli
Ineachcondition,theprimeandthetargetwordswereorthographically(case)
congruentorincongruent,andemotionally(valence)incongruentorcongruent.Thus,there

11Buttonassignmentswerecounterbalancedacrossparticipants,suchthathalfpressedthe
leftbuttonforuppercasewordsandtherightbuttonforlowercasewords.Theotherhalf
pressedtherightbuttonforuppercasewordsandtheleftbuttonforlowercasewords.
Thiscounterbalancingofresponsebuttonswasdonetopreventreactiontimesfrombeing
influencedbyasimplebuttonpreference(e.g.forpressingtherightbutton.

32


werefourkindsofprimetargetpairs:valencecongruentcasecongruent,valence
incongruentcasecongruent,valencecongruentcaseincongruent,andvalence
incongruentcaseincongruent.Inaddition,thereweretwovalenceandtwocase
conditions:neutral,negative,upper,andlower.Table2displayseachoftheeightprime
targetwordpairpermutations.
Table1:Stimulusproperties.
Note:M.=mean,S.D.=standarddeviation,Min.=minimum,Max.=maximum,Neg.=negative,Pos.=
positiveVal.=valence,Aro.=arousal,#Let.=numberofletters,P.O.S.=partofspeech,Con.=
concreteness,Fam.=familiarity,Freq.=frequency,Imag.=imageability,N.=nouns,V.=verbs,A=
adjectives.
Word
Type
Neg.
(M)
Neg.
(S.D.)
Neg.
(Min.)
Neg.
(Max.)
Pos.
(M)
Pos.
(S.D.)

Val.

Aro.

6
1

#Let.

P.O.S.

Con.

Fam.

Freq.

Imag.

483

85

519

48.7

526

0.96

36N.,15
V.,9A.

55

79.7

65

363

344

384

644

609

464

634

4.78

465

535

67.4

495

0.96

35N.,12
V.,13A.

112

54

79.1

92

Pos.
4
(Min.)
Pos.
8
(Max.)
Pvalue 0

231

381

304

602

627

383

.636

.344

.115

.200

.038

4.87

616

33


TABLE2:Typesofwordpairs.

Negative
Negative
Negative
Neutral
Neutral
Neutral
Neutral
Negative

UpperUpper
Valenceand
casecongruent,
e.g.,DEADCANCER
Valence
incongruent,
casecongruent,
e.g.,DEADPEACE
Valenceandcase
congruent,
e.g.,SILKPEACE
Valence
incongruent,
casecongruent,
e.g.,SILKCANCER

UpperLower
Valencecongruent,
caseincongruent,
e.g.,DEADcancer
Valenceandcase
incongruent,
e.g.,DEADpeace
Valencecongruent,
caseincongruent,
e.g.,SILKpeace
Valenceandcase
incongruent,
e.g.,SILKcancer

LowerLower
Valenceandcase
congruent,
e.g.,deadcancer
Valence
incongruent,
casecongruent,
e.g.,deadpeace
Valenceandcase
congruent,
e.g.,silkpeace
Valence
incongruent,
casecongruent,
e.g.,silkcancer

LowerUpper
Valencecongruent,
caseincongruent,
e.g.,deadCANCER
Valenceandcase
incongruent,
e.g.,deadPEACE
Valencecongruent,
caseincongruent,
e.g.,silkPEACE
Valenceandcase
incongruent,
e.g.,silkCANCER

Thesamewordpairswerepresentedinboththevalenceandcasetasks.Theorder
ofpresentationwasrandomizedwithineachtaskblock.Thus,participantssawthesame
wordpairsduringthetwotasks.Thepairswerecreatedfromalistof120neutraland120
negativewords.Thetwowordpoolswerecontrolledforvalence,arousal,concreteness,
frequency(Kucera&Francis,1967),length,andpartofspeech.Table1displayshowthe
stimuliweredistributedoneachofthesedimensions.
3.2RESULTS
TheeffectsofprimetargetcongruencywereassessedwithbehavioralandERP
measures.Thegoalwastotestwhethertaskcongruencysignificantlyimpacted
participantsbehavioralorERPresponsestothestimulidifferentlyinthecaseandvalence
tasks.Thus,bothbehavioralandERPdifferencesbetweentaskcongruentandtask
incongruentwordpairswerecomparedwithinboththecaseandvalencetasks.

34


3.2.1BehavioralData
Responsetimesandaccuracywerecomparedacrossbothtasks(caseandvalence)
andconditions(taskcongruentandtaskincongruent).Fasterormoreaccurateresponses
inthecongruentversusincongruentconditions,andacrossthetasks,wouldconstitute
evidenceofpriming.Thus,theresultsofinterestwerewhethertaskcongruentpairs
producedfasterandmoreaccurateresponsesthantaskincongruentpairs.
3.2.1.1CaseTaskResults
Therewasasignificantmaineffectofcasecongruence.Reactiontimeswere
speeded[F(2,36)=4.888,p=0.033]andaccuracywashigher[F(2,36)=15.17,p<0.001]
whenpairswerecasecongruent.However,thiseffectonreactiontimewasdrivenbythe
sizeableinteractionbetweencasecongruenceandtask[F(2,36)=26.75,p<0.001].That
is,casecongruenceacceleratedreactionsduringthecasetask,butnotduringthevalence
task[Mcon.=516ms,Mincon.=539ms;t(36)=6.882,p<0.001].Casecongruencedidnot
impactreactiontimessignificantlyduringthevalencetask[Mcon.=736ms,Mincon.=732ms;
t(36)=0.008,p=0.994].
Similarly,themaineffectofcasecongruencyonaccuracyresultedfromthestrength
ofthecasetaskeffects.Duringthecasetask,responsestocasecongruentpairsweremore
accurate[Mcon.=0.981,Mincon.=0.975;t(36)=2.477,p=0.018].Casecongruencedidnot
impactaccuracyduringthevalencetask[Mcon.=0.921,Mincon.=0.920;t(36)=0.401,p=
0.691).Aswithreactiontimes,casecongruencyimprovedaccuracyonlyduringthecase
task.

35


3.2.1.2ValenceTaskResults
Reactiontimeswerenotsignificantlydifferentforvalencecongruentand
incongruentpairsacrossthecase[Mcon.=528ms,Mincon.=527ms;t(36)=0.065,p=0.949]
andvalencetasks(Mcon.=732ms,Mincon.=737ms;t(36)=1.083,p=0.286).Similarly,
valencecongruencedidnotsignificantlyimproveaccuracyduringthevalencetask(Mcon.=
0.923,Mincon.=0.919;t(36)=1.372,p=0.179).Thus,thehypothesizedeffectsoftask
congruenceonreactiontimesandaccuracyduringthevalencetaskdidnotobtain.
3.2.1.3ComparingCaseandValenceTaskPerformance
Theabsenceofataskspecificvalencecongruencyeffectcontrastssharplywiththe
robusttaskeffectsforcasecongruency.Oneexplanationforthisdiscrepancyisthatthe
casetaskwaseasierforparticipantstocomplete.Manyparticipantscommentedonthe
relativeeaseofidentifyingcaseversusvalencewhentheyswitchedfromonetaskto
another.Someparticipantsalsoremarkedthattheyfoundthevalencetaskdifficult.This
differenceindifficultyisalsoreflectedintheaveragereactiontimesofthetwotasks:
regardlessofprimetargetcongruity,participantswerealwaysfaster(N=37;MCaseTask=
527ms;MValenceTask=734ms),andmoreaccurate(N=37,MCaseTask=0.978;MValenceTask=
0.921)duringthecasetask.
Recallthatthewordpairswereidenticalinthetwotasks.PairssuchassilkPEACE
orSILKcancerappearedinboththecasetaskandthevalencetask.Importantly,though,
caseincongruentpairs,likeSILKcancerandsilkPEACE,onlyslowedreactiontime
duringthecasetask.Incontrast,therewerenosignificanteffectsofcasecongruence
duringthevalencetask:reactiontimeswerenodifferentforcasecongruentpairs,like
silkcancer,thanforcaseincongruentpairs,likeSILKcancer.Thus,thesameprimes

36


modulatedresponsetothetargetsdifferentlyaccordingtoparticipantsconscious
intentiontocompleteeitherthecaseorthevalencetask.Inshort,responsetimeswere
modulatedbythetaskcongruenceofprimetargetpairs,buttherewasnovalencebased,
taskspecificmodulation.Theseresultssuggestthatprimeswereselectivelyattended
accordingtotaskrelevantfeatures,butperhapsonlywhenthetaskwasrelativelyeasy,as
itwasduringthecasetask.
3.2.2EvokedResponsePotentials
ERPcomponentsthataresensitivetospecificfeaturesofastimulus(e.g.,surface
levelversussemanticfeatures)arealsomodulatedbyattentiontoatask.TheERPs
generatedindifferentconditionswereanalyzedforcomponentsspecifictoboththetask
andthecongruencyofprimeandtarget.BasedonBentinetal.s(1999)findingsthatERP
componentsaremodulatedbylevelsoflinguisticprocessing,ERPswerepredictedtodiffer
accordingtoboththetaskandthetaskcongruenceofprimetargetwordpairs.
TheresultsfromthecasetaskpartiallymirroredBentinetal.s(1999)
documentationoforthographyspecificERPs.Casecongruencemodulatedthe
occipitotemporalN170componentonlyduringthecasetask.AsshowninFigure2a,case
incongruentpairs,suchasSILKcancerandsilkPEACE,generatedanamplifiedN170
visviscongruentpairs,suchassilkcancerorSILKPEACE.Figure2cillustratesthat
thiseffectdisappearedinthevalencetask:N170amplitudesdidnotdifferacrossanyofthe
wordpairs,regardlessoftheircasecongruence.Thus,pairslikeSILKcancer,silk
PEACE,silkcancer,andSILKPEACE,allproducedsimilarN170components,
regardlessoftheircasecongruence.

37


WhilethevalencetaskdidnotshowanymodulationoftheERPsdocumentedby
Bentinetal.,primetargetvalencecongruencydidaffectneuralactivitydifferentlyduring
thetwotasks.Thevalencecongruencyofpairsimpactedprocessinginbothorbitofrontal
andcentroparietalregionsdifferentlyduringthecaseandvalencetasks.Early
orbitofrontaldifferencesbetweenvalencecongruentandvalenceincongruentpairswere
maximalapproximately240msafterpresentationofthetarget[t(32)=4.4,p<0.001].A
secondstatisticallysignificantdifferenceinorbitofrontalactivityemergedatapproximately
584msanddiminishedby706msafterthetarget.Thedifferencebetweenresponsesto
congruentandincongruentpairspeakedat660ms[t(32)=6.0,p<0.001].
Activityinthecentroparietalregionwasalsomodulatedbythevalencecongruenceof
pairspresentedduringthevalencetask.Valencecongruentandincongruentpairs
generatedstatisticallydifferentpatternsofelectrophysiologicalactivityinthisregionfrom
approximately170to260msafterthetarget[t(32)=4.5,p<0.001].Afterdiminishing
slightly,valencecongruencedifferencesinthisregionpeakedagainatapproximately338
msafterthetarget[t(32)=4.7(p<0.001].
Inadditiontothesedifferencesbetweenelectrophysiologicalresponsestopairs
betweenthetwotasks,thevalencecongruencyofprimetargetwordpairsmodulateda
lateorbitofrontalcomponentduringthevalencetaskonly(seeFigure2b).Theamplitudeof
thisERPwasenhanced,meaningthatitwasmorenegative,afterparticipantssaw
incongruentpairs.Thus,duringthevalencetaskonly,valenceincongruentpairslike
SILKcanceranddeadpeaceamplifiedorbitofrontalactivity,whereasvalence
congruentpairslikesilkpeaceandDEADmenacedidnot.Theorbitofrontalcomponent
wasnotmodulatedbythevalencecongruencyofprimetargetwordpairsduringthecase

38


task(seeFigure2d).Notethatorbitofrontalregionsarepartoftheventralstream,and
recallthatPrinzconsidersventralstreamactivityasevidenceofattention.Therefore,these
taskspecificvalencecongruencyeffectsprovideevidencethatattentionwasengaged
duringevaluationofprimetargetcongruency.
Again,thesameprimetargetwordpairsappearinbothtasks.Thus,allofthe
examplepairsgivenabove(SILKcancer,silkPEACE,silkcancer,SILKPEACE,
deadpeace,andDEADmenace)appearedinbothtasks.However,valenceincongruent
pairsalone(e.g.,SILKcancer,silkcancer,anddeadpeace)amplifiedlateorbitofrontal
negativityonlyduringthevalencetask(seeFigure2b).Likewise,caseincongruentpairs
alone,like(silkPEACE,SILKcancer,andDEADmenace)modulatedtheN170only
duringthecasetask(seeFigure2a).Thetwotasksdifferedonlyinwhetherparticipants
wereinstructedtoattendtocaseorvalence.ThefactthattheERPsdifferedaccordingto
primetargettaskcongruitysuggeststhatprimeswereprocessedinaccordancewith
participantsintentiontocompleteonetaskortheother.Thisresultisespecially
interestinginlightoftheabsenceofsignificantbehavioralprimingeffectsforthevalence
task:whileprimetargetcongruitydidnotmeasurablyalterbehavior,itdidimpactactivity
inthebrain.
Recallthatthreehypotheseswereformulatedregardingtheanticipatedresultsof
thisexperiment.Thefirstwasthattaskwouldmodulatereactiontimesaccordingto
whetherprimesandtargetsweretaskcongruentortaskincongruent.Thistask
congruencyeffectwasobservedforthecasetask,butnotforthevalencetask.Thesecond
hypothesispredictedthatprimetargetcongruencywouldmodulateERPcomponents
associatedwithorthographic(case)andsemantic(valence)levelsofprocessing.ThisERP

39


effectwasdocumentedinbothtasks.Finally,thethirdhypothesisproposedthatprime
targetcongruencywouldmodulateventralstreamactivity.TheoccipitotemporalN170
andorbitofrontaleffectsconstituteevidenceofventralstreammodulationthatconfirm
Prinzsprediction.
AsexplainedintheearlierdiscussionofGreenwaldetal.(2003)andEcksteinand
Perrig(2007),thereissubstantialevidencethatsubliminallyprocessedprimescanbe
selectivelyattended,evenwithcompetitionfromvalencedstimuli(Gibbons,2009;Kiss&
Eimer,2008;Marcel,1983a).Thecurrentworkextendsthoseresultsintwoways.First,
behavioralandERPmeasuresbothrevealedtaskspecificprimingeffects.Second,whenthe
taskwaschanged,thestimuliremainedthesame:preciselythesamesetof480wordpairs
appearsineachofthetasks.Thus,afindingoftaskspecificeffectscannotbeconsidered
theresultofdifferencesineitherthestimuliortheprocedure,sincethesewereconstant
acrosstasks.And,sinceparticipantsalternatedwhichtasktheycompletedfirst,butthe
taskspecificeffectsobtainedregardlessoftaskorder,theresultsarenotdrivenbysimple
learnedassociationsbetweenprimesandtargetsthatfacilitatedresponsesduringthe
secondblock.Thispointisimportant,becauseitdemonstratesthattheprimingeffectsare
tiedtothetask.Inshort,thisstudybolsterspriorworkbyshowingthatidenticalprimes
canbeprocesseddifferently,accordingtoaconsciouslymediatedtask.

40

Figure2a

Figure2b

41

Figure2c

Figure2d

42


4ISTHISSTUDYAVALIDTESTOFTHEAIRTHEORYANDPRINZSACCOUNTOF
UNCONSCIOUSEMOTIONS?
Iwillnowaddressseveralquestionsabouttheinterpretationofthisstudy'sresults
andtheirrelevanceforPrinz'stheoryofemotion,attention,andawareness.Onequestionis
whetherexposuretoavalencedwordelicitswhatPrinz(andothers)wouldrecognizeasa
bonafideemotion(seeCoan&Allen,2007).InGutReactions,Prinzstatesthatperceptual
statestriggeremotions(p.75).Toillustrate,heexaminestheevidencethatpicturesof
snakestriggeremotions,andconcludesthattheydo.Hefurtherarguesthatthistypeof
directemotionelicitationextendstolearnedemotionalresponses,suchaswords.Prinz
(2004b)hypothesizes,"[a]ssociativelearningcanprobablyforgealinkbetweenemotions
andanyperceptualexperiencethatoccursinconjunctionwiththem"(p.75).This
associativelinkageextendstoconcepts.Prinz(2004b)statesthat,"conceptsthenbecome
emotionelicitorsoftheirown"(p.76).Inshort,thecausesofemotionvarywidely.These
causesareunifiedbytheirimpactonaperceiver:eachcausebringsaboutaphysiological
changethatisrepresentedasanemotion.Bythismeasure,Prinzshouldagreethat
valencedwordscanelicitemotion.
ThisconclusionisalsosupportedbyPrinzsinterpretationoffindingsfromastudy
byWinkielmanandBerridge(2003)asevidencefortheoccurrenceofunconscious
emotion.TheWinkielmanandBerridgeparadigmtestswhethersubliminalexposureto
picturesofemotivefaces(e.g.,angryorhappy)impactsparticipants'ratingand
consumptionofanunfamiliarbeverage.WinkielmanandBerridgefoundthatsubliminal
exposuretofacesdisplayingnegativeemotionsdecreasedbothparticipants'total
consumptionandratingofthedrink.WinkielmanandBerridgeconsidercountthisas

43


evidenceofunconsciousemotion,andPrinz(2005a)concurs(p.17).Theirparadigm
parallelsthatusedinthepresentexperiment.Bothutilizesubliminallyprocessed,valenced
stimulitoelicitemotion.Additionally,bothcountbehavioralshiftsasevidenceofemotion
elicitation.ThesecommonalitiessuggestthatPrinzshouldconsiderthepresentexperiment
tobeavalidtestofunconsciousemotionprocessing.
IfPrinzacceptsthatsubliminalprimeselicitunconsciousemotions,thekeyquestion
becomeswhethertheprimescanbeattended.Theresultsofthepresentstudy
demonstratethatsubliminalperceptionisimpactedbyconsciousintentionstocompletea
task.Thatis,theyshowthataconsciousfocusonataskimpactsevensubliminalstimulus
processing.Thistaskfocuseffectismostparsimoniouslyunderstoodasattention.InThe
ConsciousBrain,Prinzgrantsthatattentionreferstovariousphenomena,frompopout
effectstovigilance(p.74).Whatunifiesthesephenomenaasinstancesofattention,Prinz
suggests,isthateachresultsfromachangeininformationprocessinginthebrain(n.d.,p.
74).
Basedontheresultsofthepresentexperiment,Iproposethatwhenparticipants
adopttheintentiontocompleteatask,eithertoattendcaseorattendvalence,theirbrains
processinformationdifferentlythanitwouldintheabsenceofanexplicittask.This
interpretationissupportedbythefindingsoftaskspecificdifferencesinparticipant
performance.Attentionisthebestcandidateforamechanismthatexplainstheseresults:
theonlycomponentoftheexperimentalsetupthatchangesfromonetasktotheotheris
theinstructionstoparticipantsaboutwhattheyshouldfocuson.Thesetaskeffects,inturn,
suggeststhatattentionisnotsufficientforconsciousnessprocessingtooccur.TheAIR
theoryestablishesthatsubliminalattentionisimpossible,andsoPrinzwillbemotivatedto

44


provideanalternativeexplanationofthesefindings.Todoso,hemustexplainhow
subliminalprimescanbeinfluencedbyaconsciousintention(task)withoutbeing
attended.
5PRINZSLIKELYCRITICISMSOFTHETESTANDITSRESULTS

TheresultsofthisstudyappeartochallengetheAIRtheory.Thesubliminalprimes

impactedneuralandbehavioraloutcomesaccordingtoboththeparticipantsconscious
task,andthetaskcongruenceoftheprimeandthetarget.However,Prinzwillprobably
rejectaninterpretationthatattributestheseeffectstoattentionalprocessing.Six
objectionsandalternativeexplanationsmeritconsideration.First,Prinz(n.d.)stipulates
thatfeatureselection(e.g.,identifyingupperorlowercase)isacause,notaneffect,of
attention,andthatthetaskswitchingeffectsconstitutetheformer,notthelatter(p.74
75).Second,thetaskeffectscouldbetheoutcomeoforienting,ratherthanattention.Third,
Prinzmightprovideconvincingevidencethattheprimeswerepresentedtooquicklytobe
attended.Fourth,hemightarguethatprimesdidnotgenerateintermediatelevel
representations.Fifth,PrinzcouldprotecttheAIRtheorybydemonstratingthattheprimes
werenotavailabletoworkingmemory.Finally,hemightconcedethatsimpleperceptual
processing,likecaseidentification,canbemodulatedbyattention,butthatthepresent
resultsdonotthreatenhisaccountofemotionrepresentations.Iwillnowconsidereachof
thesepotentialobjectionstotheinterpretationofthesefindingsasevidenceofsubliminal
attention.
5.1.1Objection1:Selection,NotAttention

Oneplausibleexplanationforthepresentfindings,whichsuggestthatattention

impactssubliminalprocessing,isthatparticipantsconsciousintentiontoattendtocaseor

45


valenceshiftsthelevelatwhichprimesareprocessed.Ifthishypothesisiscorrect,then
specificfeaturesareselectedforprocessing,evenatthesubliminallevel.Thisfeature
selectioneffectpresumablyresultsfromattention.However,Prinz(n.d.)stipulatesthat
selectionisacauseofattention,notaneffect(p.7475).Tosupportthisclaim,heargues
thatthefamouscocktailpartyeffect,thatofhearingonesownnamefromacrossanoisy
andcrowdedroom,demonstratesthatapercept,suchasonesname,canbeselectedprior
tobeingattended.Thispointmeritsconsideration:itseemscorrectthataregionorobject
mustbeselectedbeforeitsfeaturescanbeattended.However,thisaccountraisesthe
questionofwhatmechanismunderliestheinitialselection,particularlyinlightofpresent
findingsthatconsciousintentionmodulatesfeatureselection.

Presumably,participantsconsciousintentiontocompleteaspecifictaskdetermines

whatfeaturesareselected,whichthenenablesevaluationoftherelevantfeatures.For
instance,duringthevalencetask,participantsfocusedonclassifyingthewordsasnegative
orneutral.Thisconsciousintentionresultedintheselectionofthewordssemantic
meaning.Featuresirrelevanttothistask,likecase,wereneglected.Onceawordssemantic
valuehadbeenselected,itcouldthenbeevaluatedaseithernegativeorneutral.This
accountsuggeststhattheremustbetworelatedcomponentsofwordprocessinginthis
task:attentiontoparticularwordfeatures,whichthenpromptsselectionofthosefeatures
forfurtheranalysis.Thus,attentiontoataskisnecessarytomotivatefeatureselection,
whichisinturnnecessaryforevaluationofthosefeaturesvisvisathetaskcriteria.

Prinziscorrecttoobservethatfeatureselectionisnecessaryforevaluationofa

stimulus.However,itisnotclearhowfeatureselectionitselfcanoccurwithoutattention.
Inthepresentstudy,itappearsthattheparticipantsattentiontoparticularlinguistic

46


featuresmodulatedhowthewordswereprocessed.Simplyput,itwasattentiontothetask
thatmotivatedfeatureselection.

Inaddition,Prinzcharacterizedattentionastheprocessthatrenderspercepts

accessibletoworkingmemory.Selectionpresumablydoesjustthat.Boththispointandthe
apparentnecessityofattentiontoguideselectionsuggestthatPrinzsexclusionofselection
fromtherealmofattentionisproblematic.Futureworkshouldinvestigatewhetherthese
twoformsofattention,selectionandevaluation,aresufficientlydissimilartosupport
Prinzsclaims.Atpresent,though,theselectionaccountdoesnotconstituteacoherent
defenseoftheAIRtheory.
5.1.2Objection2:Orienting,NotAttention
Prinzmightalsoturntoorientingasadefenseofhistheory.InTheConsciousBrain,
Prinzrejectsseveralargumentsforattentionintheabsenceofconsciousnessandsuggests
thatsomeoralloftheseargumentsarebasedonconflationofattentionproperwith
orienting.AccordingtoPrinz(n.d.),orientingengagestwophysiologicalprocessesthat
typicallyaccompanyattention:eyesaccadesandshrinkingreceptivefieldsinprimary
perceptualprocessingareas(p.87).Together,theseorientingresponsescouldproducea
higherresolutionrepresentationofapercept.Thesubliminalprimesmightthencause
differentneuralandbehavioralresponsesbecauseofdifferencesinsimplevisualfeatures
(e.g.,upperorlowercasefont).Prinzarguesthatneitherashiftinsaccadesnorshrinking
receptivefieldsconstituteattention.Instead,theseprocessesconstituteanorienting
responsethatismistakenforattention.Prinzcouldrejectthevalidityofthistestby
claimingthattaskspecificprimingeffectsresultfromorienting,ratherthanattention.

47


Indeed,Prinz(n.d.)arguesthatorientingtoprimes,ratherthanattention,accounts
fortheprimingeffectsreportedfrommaskedprimingstudies(p.91).Inotherwords,he
explainstheseeffectsastheoutcomeofshiftsineyesaccades,shrinkingcellularreceptive
fieldsinvisualprocessingareasofthebrain,orboth.However,overtorienting(eye
saccades)cannotaccountforattentioneffectsthatareseenforfovealstimuli.Orienting
focusesthefoveaonthelocationwhereastimuluswillappear.Ifthelocationoftargets
varied,thenprimescouldenhanceprocessingbytriggeringeyesaccadestothecorrect
location.However,inthisstudy,primesandtargetsappearedinthesamecentrallocation
onalltrials,acrossbothtasks.Moreover,itisunclearhowchangesinvisualprocessingcan
accountforeffectsthatarespecifictodifferentlevelsofprocessing(i.e.,surfacelevel
versussemanticprocessing).Allstimuliinthepresentexperimentwerewordspresented
inthesamelocation.Theirvariationsincase,valence,andarousalaretoosubtletoproduce
processingdifferencesbasedonspatialfocusalone.Inshort,orientingdoesnotappearto
provideanexplanationfortheprocessingdifferencesthatresultfromtaskcongruence.
Perhapsthenotionoforientingcouldbestretchedtoaccommodatesomeofthese
data.Prinzmightarguethatthecasetaskresultscanbeexplainedbyshrinkingofcellular
receptivefieldsinthecellsthatwereactivatedbyorientingtotheprime.Thisorienting
effectcouldenhancedetectionofslightgraphicaldifferencesbetweenstimuli,suchassize
andcurvedorstraightedges,whichcanbeprocessedatalowlevel(inV1).Thiskindof
lowlevelfeaturedetectionwouldnotnecessarilygenerateanintermediatelevel
representation.ThecaseresultswouldnolongerposeachallengetotheAIRtheory.
However,itisnotclearhoworientingeffectsalonecanaccountforthevalence
congruencyERPdifferencesthatobtainedduringthevalencetask.Thebasicgraphical

48


featuresofthewords,whichwouldbeperceivedmoreclearlyifreceptivefieldsshrink,do
notrevealanythingaboutsemanticvalue.Sinceboththecaseandvalencetasksgenerated
uniqueERPcorrelates,shrinkingreceptivefieldsalonecannotaccountforthevalencetask
ERPeffects.
Prinz(n.d.)doesproposeaspatialmetricfordifferentiatingattentionfrom
orienting:hearguesthatattentionandorientingevokedifferentpatternsofneural
activation(p.90).Orientingisassociatedwiththedorsalvisualpathway,whileattention
properengagesboththedorsalandtheventralpathways.Thus,Prinz(n.d.)predictsthatif
arepresentationistheobjectofattention,itwillincreaseprocessinginventralvisual
processingareas(p.90).Resultsofthepresentstudyshowthatbothorbitofrontalregions
andlanguagerelatedventralareas(occipitotemporalareas)wereactivatedduringthese
tasks.AccordingtoPrinzsownaccount,activationoftheseregionssuggeststhatprimes
weremodulatedbyattention,ratherthanbyorientingalone.
5.1.3Objection3:AttentionTakesTime
AnotherquestionPrinzmayhaveaboutinterpretationofthepresentresultsregards
thetimecourseofattention.Heassertsthat,"attentiontakestime"(n.d.,p.71).More
specifically,Prinzclaimsthat"[t]herepresentationthatiscausedbyastimuluscanbe
modulatedbyattentiononlyifitenduresforatemporalintervalthatislongenoughfor
attentiontodoitswork"(n.d.,p.72).Hedoesgrantthatafleetingimagecanproducean
iconicmemorythatenduresfor300500ms(n.d.,p.72).However,hearguesthat
backwardmaskedprimespresentedforbriefdurationscannotproduceenduring

49


afterimages,andthuscannotbeattended.12AccordingtoPrinz,extremelybriefexposureis
notsufficient.Absentthepreservationofaniconicimage,attentioncannotunfold.
Prinz(n.d.)supportstheclaimthatattentiontakestimebycitingtwostudies(p.72).
Bothsuggestittakesapproximately110125msforastimulustogeneratean
intermediatelevelvisualrepresentation.Prinzgrantsthatstimulipresentedforshorter
durationscanproducerepresentations,asevenanextremelybriefpresentationcan
generateaniconicmemorythatlastslongenoughtobemodulatedbyattention.However,
hespecifiesthatwhenabrieflypresentedstimuliismasked,noiconicimagewillendure.
Thus,thesestimulicannotgenerateintermediatelevelrepresentationsandaretherefore
notavailableforattentionalmodulation(Prinz,n.d.,p.72).
Inthepresentstudy,primeswerepresentedfor35msandfollowedbyamasker,
whichpresumablyoverwroteanyiconicmemoryofthestimulus.AccordingtoPrinzs
account,thismodeofpresentationpreventsprimesfromgeneratinganintermediatelevel
representation,andthusprecludesattentionalmodulation.However,thepresentdata
showthattheattentionmanipulationshadmeasurableeffectsonpriming.Toclaimthat
theseeffectsarenottheoutcomeofattentionsimplybecausethestimuliwerenot
presentedforasufficientdurationsisadhoc.Prinz(n.d.)grantsthatattentionincludes
multiplecognitiveprocesses,suchasvigilance,monitoring,andpopout,ontothefolk
psychologicalnotionofattention13(p.74).Giventhisinclusivecharacterizationof

12Onpage72,Prinzwrites,"Therepresentationthatiscausedbyastimuluscanbe
modulatedbyattentiononlyifitenduresforatemporalintervalthatislongenoughfor
attentiontodoitswork."
13Prinzcharacterizesvigilanceas,remainingalertandresponsivetoanythingthatmight
comebeforeoursenses,monitoringas,whenweretainperceptualcontactwithanobject
orscene[,]ortracking,aswhenwewatchanobjectmovethroughspace,andpopoutas,
whenastimulusstandsoutfromthingsaroundit(Prinz,n.d.,74).

50


attention,andPrinzsownacknowledgementthatitisplausiblethatnotallinstancesof
attentionresultfromacommonmechanism,thereisnocompellingreasontobelievethat
durationofexposurealonedeterminesavailabilitytoattention.Unlesshecansupply
additionalevidencetosupporthisclaimsaboutthetimecourseofattention,thisobjection
isinsufficientlysupported.
5.1.4Objection4:AttentionWithoutIntermediateLevelRepresentation
AstrongerdefenseoftheAIRtheorymightbetoarguethatprimesareattended,but
thattheydonotgenerateanintermediatelevelrepresentation.Instead,attentiontoprimes
modulatesonlylowlevelperceptualprocessing.Thecasetaskspecificprimingdifferences
couldthenbeexplainedastheresultofattentionaleffectsonlowlevelfeaturedetection,
suchasthesizeandorientationofedges.
ThisaccountwouldinsulatetheAIRtheoryfromthethreatsposedbyMSPPs,
becausePrinzspecifiesthatonlyattendedintermediatelevelrepresentationswillbecome
conscious.Thus,attendedlowlevelprocessingisnotsufficientforconsciousness.Selective
attentionmightalterprocessingatthislevelsufficientlytodifferentiatestimuliaccording
tosimplefeatures.Thislowlevelfeatureselectionmightexplainthetaskspecificpriming
effectswithoutthreateningtheAIRtheory.
However,itseemsthatPrinzcannotpursuethisdefense,becausehesubscribesto
Marrsaccountofvisualprocessing,asrecapitulatedbyJackendoff(1987).Accordingto
MarrandJackendoff,topdownprocessescanonlymodulateprocessingfromthe2.5D
(intermediate)levelforward.Theyspecifythatlowlevelperceptionisnotavailabletotop
downmodulation(Jackendoff,1987,p.186).Aconsciousintentiontocompleteaparticular
taskalmostcertainlyconstitutestopdownmodulation.Thus,accordingtotheMarr

51


Jackendoffmodel,theprimescouldnothavebeenmodulatedbyattentiontoaparticular
task.UnlessPrinzbreakswiththisdescriptionofperceptualprocessing,heshouldgrant
thatconsciousintentioncannotmodulatelowlevelperceptualprocessing.
However,inTheConsciousBrain,Prinzsuggeststhatheiswillingtomodifythe
MarrJackendoffmodelofperceptualprocessing.Hegrantsthat,[t]hereisstrongevidence
thatbrainregionsinvolvedinthecontrolofattentiondirectlymodulateintermediatelevel
areas,whichtheninfluencelowlevelareasthroughfeedback(n.d.,p.77).Thus,heis
willingtoallowthatattentioncanimpactlowlevelprocessing.Prinzstates,[i]fthisis
right,increasedbrainactivityinlowlevelareasisanaftereffectofattentionalmodulation
inintermediatelevelareas(n.d.,p.77). Therefore,onPrinzsaccount,attentioncanimpact
lowlevelprocessing,butonlybyfirstactingonintermediatelevelrepresentations.
ThisaccountoflowlevelattentioneffectsprovidesanopeningforPrinztoexplain
thepresentfindingsoftaskspecificpriminginawaythatprotectstheAIRtheory.The
targetswereconsciouslyperceived.Therefore,accordingtotheAIRtheory,thetargets
musthavegeneratedintermediatelevelrepresentationsthatwereattended.Prinzcould
arguethattheattentiontotaskspecificfeaturesattheintermediatelevelthentrickled
downtothelowlevel.There,primeswouldthenhavebeenprocesseddifferentlyineach
task,accordingtotheattentionalfocusthatwasconsciouslyappliedtotheintermediate
levelrepresentations.
Still,itisunclearhowattentionalmodulationoflowlevelprocessingcanaccountfor
thevalencecongruencyeffectsonERPsthatweredocumentedduringthevalencetask.The
MarrJackendoffmodelstipulatesthatlowlevelprocessingislimitedtobasicfeature
detection,suchasofedgesormovement.Enhancedlowlevelprocessingcouldimprove

52


performanceduringavisualtask.However,evenifthischaracterizationoflowlevel
perceptualprocessingiscorrect,itcannotaccountforthesemanticjudgments,whichwere
necessaryforascertainingprimetargetcongruenceduringthevalencetask.Barringa
novelaccountofhowprocessingatthelowlevelenablessemanticjudgments,evenPrinzs
willingnesstograntthatattentionmightactatlowleveldoesnotprovideasatisfactory
accountofthevalencetaskERPeffects.
5.1.5Objection5:AnAbsenceofBehavioralPrimingEffectsEvidencesanAbsenceof
Attention
Prinzmightemphasizethattheabsenceofbehavioraldifferences(ineitheraccuracy
orresponselatency)inthevalencetaskdemonstratesthat,atleastinregardstoemotion,
theAIRtheoryiscorrect.Primetargetvalencecongruencydidnotmodulateresponse
latenciesoraccuracyinthevalencetask.Theseresultssuggestthattheprimesvalencewas
notattendedduringthevalencetask.
Independently,theabsenceofbehavioraleffectsinthevalencetaskiscongruent
withtheAIRtheoryspredictionsforsubliminalemotionprocessing.Itsuggeststhat
subliminalemotionelicitationdoesnotgenerateintermediatelevelrepresentationsthat
areavailabletoattentionalmodulation.However,whenconsideredalongsidethecasetask
results,thisnullresultduringthebehavioraltaskpresentsaninformativecontrast.Thatis,
thesignificantreactiontimeeffectsofcasecongruencyduringthecasetaskdidnotappear
duringthevalencetask.Thisdifferencedemonstratesthattheprimingeffectsdidvary
accordingtotask:thecasetaskproducedcasecongruencypriming,whereasthevalence
taskrevealednobehavioralpriming.Thisasymmetryindicatesthatconsciousintentions
canmodulatesubliminalprocessing.However,theextenttowhichthatoccursmaydepend

53


onthecomplexityorsalienceofthetask.Itisplausiblethattheextremelyshortdurationof
theprimepresentationdidnotallowextensivesematicprocessing,whereasitwas
sufficientforcaseidentification.

Participantreportscorroboratethisinsufficiencyhypothesisregardingthe

absenceofbehavioralvalencecongruencyprimingeffectsduringthevalencetask.Asnoted
previously,participantsfrequentlycommentedonthedifficultyofthevalencetask,
particularlywhentheyhadcompletedthecasetaskfirst.Participantsstruggledmost
duringthefirstquarterofthevalenceblock,oftenrepeatedlyaskingtheexperimenters
howtheyshouldbeevaluatingthewords.Inaddition,someparticipantseitherstruggled
withtheinstructionto"gowiththeirgut"indeterminingthevalenceofthetarget,or
commentedthattheyconsideredthevalencetobeoppositetohowitwasusedinthe
experiment.Forinstance,oneoftheneutralwordswas"errand."TheAffectiveNormsfor
EnglishWords(2010)databaseliststhemeanvalenceoftheworderrandas4.58(ona
scaleof1to9,with9beingmostpositive),anditsmeanarousalas3.85(onascaleof1to
9,with9beinghighlyarousing).However,someparticipantsnotedthattheyconsider
errandtobeanegativeword,andthusrepeatedlyclassifieditassuch.Inaddition,some
participantssaidtheystruggledwithwordsthattheyfeltcouldbeconsideredaseither
negativeorapproximatelyneutral.Examplesoftheseincludeplain,manure,andpollen.

Thebehavioraldatacorroborateparticipantscommentsaboutthedifficultyofthe

valencetask.Theeffectoftaskonreactiontimeshowsthattheblockswereasymmetrical
indifficulty(F(2,36)=93.67,p<0.000):participantsweremuchfasterduringthecasetask
(M=527.5ms)thanthevalencetask(M=734.4ms).Participantswerealsomoreaccurate
duringthecasetask(M=0.978)thanthevalencetask(M=0.921).Overall,therewasa

54


significantmaineffectoftaskonaccuracy(F(2,36)=192.713,p<0.000).Thesedifferences
betweenthetasksmayaccountforthelackofcongruencyeffectsonreactiontimeand
accuracyduringthevalencetask.Thatis,thevalencetaskwasclearlymoredifficultthan
thecasetask.Thisdifficultymayhavepreventedtheanticipatedbehavioraleffectsof
valencecongruencyfromappearingduringthevalencetask.
Incontrastwiththebehavioraleffects,therobustERPdifferencesbetweenvalence
congruentandvalenceincongruentprimetargetpairsonlyduringthevalencetasksuggest
that,althoughtherewerenocorrespondingbehavioraldifferences,participantsdiddetect
thevalenceoftheprimes.Iftheyhadnot,theconsistentindexingoftheorbitofrontaland
centroparietalactivitytothevalencecongruencyoftheprimeandtargetwouldnotobtain.
Intandem,thevalencecongruencyeffectsonERPs,butnotonresponselatencyand
accuracy,suggeststhattheprimesvalencedidimpactprocessingduringthevalence,but
notthecasetask.Thesesubtleeffectswereprobablywashedoutbyparticipants
uncertaintyabouthowtoclassifythevalenceofsometargets,whichledtosloweroverall
reactiontimesanddecreasedaccuracy.
5.1.6SummaryofDefensesoftheAIRTheory
Insummary,PrinzhasafewpathsfordefendingtheAIRtheoryfromthecurrent
results.Hecantrytobolsterthedistinctiondrawnbetweenselectionandattention,and
thenattributetheprimingeffectstotheformer.Similarly,orientingmightaccountforthe
casecongruencyeffects.However,itcannotaccountforthevalencetaskresults.
Furthermore,theN170andorbitofrontalERPmodulationdemonstratesthatthetask
generated,ventralstreamactivation,whichPrinzspecifiesisindicativeofattention.In
ordertosuccessfullyattributetheprimingeffectstoorienting,Prinzwillneedtorefinehis

55


account.Alternatively,hemightcontendthattheprimesdidnotproduceintermediate
levelrepresentations,butthattheywereavailableforattentionalmodulationthattrickled
downfromtheintermediatelevel.Todoso,hewillhavetoexplainhowshiftsinlowlevel
processingcanaccountforthevalencecongruencyERPeffectsduringthevalencetask.
6CONCLUSION

Prinzarguesthatintermediatelevelrepresentationsarecompleteandavailablefor

consciousaccess.Whatsetsthosethatbecomeconsciousapartisattention.Importantly,
thisaccountpostulatesthatattentionfunctionsasalateselectionmechanism:itactsupon
theoutputsofperceptualprocessingtodeterminewhichperceptsbecomeconscious.In
otherwords,attentionfunctionslikeaspotlightthatselectssomeintermediatelevel
representationsforconsciousness.Prinzconsidersthatemotionsareperceivedand
processedinthesamemannerasalltypesofpercepts.Inshort,heappliesahierarchical
modelofvisualprocessingtoemotion.Thisaccountrequirescarefulreview,especially
sincetheAIRtheorycannotsatisfactorilyexplainsomeofthepresentresults.Inparticular,
theseresultssuggestthatanattendedintermediatelevelrepresentationisnotsufficientfor
consciousness.
TwocomponentsofPrinzsaccountoftherelationshipbetweenattentionand
consciousnessarevulnerabletoattack.Thefirst,introducedabove,ishisvaguedefinition
ofattention.ThesecondishissubscriptiontoMarrandJackendoffsmodelofperceptual
processing.ThevaguenessproblemresultsfromPrinzsdefinitionofattention.Recall
thatPrinz(n.d.)makesavailabilitytoworkingmemoryajointlynecessaryandsufficient
criterionforattention:attentioncanbeidentifiedwiththeprocessesthatallow

56


informationtobeencodedinworkingmemory(p.76).Itisunclearhowtomeasure
availabilitytoworkingmemory,oroperationalizethiscriterionfortesting.
ToprotecttheAIRtheoryfromtheresultsofMSPPs,Prinzneedstoprovideamore
specificaccountofattentiononethatcanbeoperationalizedandtested.Atpresent,his
loosedefinitionofattentionmakesitunclearhowtotestand,potentially,falsifytheAIR
theory.Falsifiabilityisawidelyacceptedcriterionforscientifictheory,anditisonethatthe
AIRtheoryshouldsatisfy(Popper,1963).Amorerefinedaccountofattentionwillenable
decisivetestsoftheAIRtheory.Inturn,itwillhelptoresolvehowthepresentfindings
impactthetheory.IfPrinzcannarrowhisdefinitionofattentiontoexcludethepresent
findings,thentheywillnotchallengethetheory.Theresultswillbeunderstoodtobea
byproductofunattendedintermediatelevelrepresentations,notAIRs.

ThesecondissuetoaddressinevaluatingtheAIRtheoryiswhetheritrestsuponan

accuratemodelofperceptualprocessing.TheMarrandJackendoffmodel,whichPrinz
invokes,stipulatesthattopdownprocesses,likeintentiontocompleteatask,donot
modulateperceptualprocessingatthelowestlevel.Inaddition,themodelassumesthat
perceptualprocessingproceedsinalinear,hierarchicalmanner.Byadoptingthismodel,
Prinzassumesthatperceptionsareassembledonefeatureatatime,fromthelowtohigh
levels.However,thereisevidencetosuggestthatthisassumptionisincorrect.Ifitis,then
theintermediatelevelentailmentoftheAIRtheorymayrequirereevaluation.
InaseriesofMSPPexperiments,Marcel(1983b)demonstratedthatfeature
detectiondegradesinamanneroppositetothatwhichissuggestedbyphenomenological
experience.Bymanipulatingstimuluspresentationduration,hefoundevidencethat
seeminglycomplexfeatures,likesemanticvalue,aredetectedpriortobasicvisual

57


elements.Tobeprecise,aslengthofstimuluspresentationdecreased,thefirstperceptual
failureswereforsimplepresenceorabsencejudgments.Graphicalfeaturedetectionwas
degradednext,followedbysemanticvaluedetection.UsingaMSPPwithaword
recognitiontask,participantsfirstlylosttheabilitytodetectprimes,secondlywereunable
toidentifygraphicfeaturesfirst,andlastlyfailedsemanticrelatednessjudgments(a,
1983b).Theimportantimplicationisthattheapparentdifficultyofaperceptualtaskdoes
notmapontohowquicklyitisperformed.Thisfindingsuggeststhatperceptualprocessing
mightunfolddifferentlythanhumanphenomenologysuggests.Relatedly,Marcelsresults
suggestthatperceptualprocessingdoesnotstartwithbasicfeaturedetectionandproceed
inastepwisefashion,asMarrproposed.Marcelcontendsthathisresultsunderminetwo
assumptionsaboutperceptualprocessing.Thefirstisthatconsciousandunconscious
representationsareidentical.Hecallsthistheidentityassumption.Thesecondisthat
perceptionproceedsinalinear,hierarchicalfashion.Hecallsthistheperceptual
microgenesishypothesis(Marcel,1983a).
InadditiontoMarcelsfindings,priorworkhasusedMSPPstoexaminewhether
processingatthesubandsupraliminallevelsdiffersindegreeorinkind.Theresults
suggestthatperceptualprocessingunfoldsdifferentlyatthetwolevels.Forinstance,
BalconiandMazza(2009)usedERPsasindicesoftheneuralprocessesgeneratedby
picturesofneutralandemotionalfaces,presentedforeither30or200ms.Bothemotional
salienceanddurationmodulatedERPsgeneratedinresponsetothepictures.TheERP
componentsdifferedinlocation,duration,andamplitudebetweenboththeemotionversus
neutralandthesubversussupraliminalconditions.

58


Similarily,KissandEimer(2008)investigatedwhethersubandsupraliminally
processedfacesgeneratedifferentERPsaccordingtothetypeofemotionalexpression.
Participantsclassifiedmaskedimagesoffacesasbeingeitherfearfulorneutralinboth
supraliminal(200ms)andsubliminalconditions(8ms).TheERPsdependedonboth
presentationdurationandvalence.Fearfulfaceselicitedenhancedearly,anteriorERPsin
bothsubandsupraliminalconditions.However,onlysubliminaltrialsgeneratedrobust
frontalandcentralfluctuationsataround200ms(N200)inresponsetobothneutraland
fearfulfaces.Inthesupraliminaltrials,fearfulfacesevokedasustainedfrontalpositivity
andanenhancedcentralparietalfluctuationataround300ms(P300).Importantly,
modulationoftheN200componentwasuniquetosubliminalprocessingofthestimuli.
Behavioralstudiesalsorevealsubstantivedifferencesbetweensubandsupra
liminalprocessingconditionsnotthatsubliminalprocessingissimplyattenuatedin
comparisontosupraliminalconditions.Forinstance,sometypesoflearningareenhanced
atthesubliminallevel.Ithasbeenknownthatcomplexrelationshipscanbelearned
implicitly,asdemonstratedinReber's(1993)influentialstudiesofimplicitgrammar
learning.Thisfindinghasbeenreplicatedandrefined.Lambertetal.(1999)suggestthat
somecontingenciescanbelearnedsubliminally,butnotsupraliminally.Specifically,they
observedlearningofareversecontingencybetweenthepositionofacueandasubsequent
targetwhenstimuliwerepresentedsubliminally,butnotwhentheywerepresented
supraliminally.Thesedivergentresultssuggestthatsubandsupraliminallevels
processingunfolddifferently.
Theresultsofstudiesliketheseshowthatlevelofawarenessimpactsthewayin
whichstimuliareprocessed:subandsupraliminalprocessingofthesameperceptunfolds

59


differently.Importantly,thisdifferenceisnotmerelyoneofdegree.Iftheidentity
assumptioniscorrect,thensubliminalprocessingshouldsimplybeeitherattenuatedor
truncatedrelativetosupraliminalconditions.Thedistinctdifferencesinprocessingsuggest
thattheidentityassumptionisincorrect.Inaddition,Marcelsfindingsshowthat
perceptualprocessingdoesnotunfoldinthemannerpredictedbyahierarchicalmodel.
Instead,complexfeaturedetectionispreservedevenaftersimplefeaturedetectionislost.
Theseresultsunderminetheperceptualmicrogenensishypothesis.
TheMarrandJackendoffmodelpredictsthatcomparisonsofsubandsupraliminal
processingofthesameperceptwillgenerateidenticalneuraleffectsofprocessingatthe
lowandintermediatelevels.14Thus,themodelinvokestheidentityhypothesis:itposits
thatsubandsupraliminalprocessingonlydifferfromthepointwhenthelatterproduces
aconsciousexperienceofthepercept.PrinzsarticulationoftheAIRtheorysuggeststhat
subandsupraliminalperceptualprocessingisanalogous.Then,inthelatestagesof
processing,attentionactsattheintermediateleveltodeterminewhichperceptsare
consciouslyperceived.However,thisaccountisunderminedbyaseriesofstudiesthathave
demonstratedthatperceptualprocessingunfoldsdifferentlyatthesubandsupraliminal
levels.
ByendorsingtheMarrandJackendoffmodel,Prinzisforcedtoassumealate
selectionmodelofattention.Thatis,hecontendsthatattentionactsonfullyformed
representations,ratherthanatearlierstagesofperceptualprocessing.Whilelateselection
theoriesofattentionlikePrinzsarecommon,theyarechallengedbyaccountsthatpropose
thatattentionmodulatestheearlieststagesofperceptualprocessing(Duncan,2006;Ruff,

14However,notethatonepredictionmightbethatprocessingwouldbeattenuatedinthe
subliminalcondition,duetotheweakperceptualinput.

60


2011).Withoutallowingthatattentionmightmodulatelowlevelperceptualprocessing,it
isdifficulttoexplaineitherthepresentresults,orthosefromLambertetal.(1999),Marcel
(1983b),KissandEimer(2008),andBalconiandMazza(2009).Inaddition,itprevents
himfromallowingthatdifferentfeaturesofthesameperceptmightunfoldacrossmultiple
processingpathwaysintandem.Prinzisthustetheredtotheperceptualmicrogenesis
assumption.Prinzcanreadilyexplainawaysomeofthepresentresults,ifhewillgrantthat
attentioncanmodulatelowlevelperceptualprocessing.Hecouldthenascribethepresent
casetaskfindingstotheeffectsofattentiontolowlevelfeaturedetection.

ThesechallengestotheidentityassumptionarealsoproblematicforPrinzsaccount

ofconsciousandunconsciousemotions.Hehasproposedthatthetwoareseparatedonly
byattention.However,resultsofstudieslikeBalconiandMazza(2009)andKissandEimer
(2008)suggestthatconsciousandunconsciousemotionarenotprocessedidentically.
RecallthatthesubliminalconditionsgeneratedERPsthatwerenotpresentatallinthe
supraliminalcondition.Thoseresultssuggestthattheidentityassumptionisincorrect.Ifit
is,thenitisthedistinctneuralprocessesthatgenerateconsciousandunconscious
emotionsdifferentiatethemnotjustwhethertheyareattended.

Inconclusion,PrinzhasthreetaskstocompleteinordertodefendtheAIRtheory.

First,heshouldprovideaspecific,testableaccountofattention.Second,hemusteither
defendorrevisehisendorsementoftheMarrmodelofperceptualprocessing.Third,he
shouldrevisehisclaimthatattentionaloneseparatesconsciousfromunconsciousemotion,
giventhefindingsthatshowmarkeddifferencesintheneuralprocessingofsubliminally
andsupraliminallyprocessedvalencedstimuli.Theseundertakingswouldbesubstantial,
butifPrinzcansuccessfullyaddresseachofthem,theAIRtheorywillremaincredible.

61


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APPENDIX:METHODSSECTION
Participants
Fortytwoparticipants(20men;22women)wererecruitedfromtheGeorgiaState
Universityparticipantpooltotakepartinthestudy.AllparticipantswerenativeEnglish
speakers,wererighthanded(MEHI=66.2),andhadnormalorcorrectedtonormalvision.
Participantagesrangedfrom18to39(M=22.3,s.d.=4.88).Participantsreceived
academiccoursecredit,payment,orboth.
StudyProcedures
TheexperimenttookplaceintheBrainElectrophysiologyofLanguageandLiteracy
Systems(BELLS)Lab(GeorgiaStateUniversity;Frishkoff,PI).Atypicalsessionlastedfor
twoandahalftothreehours.Whenparticipantsfirstarrived,theywereorientedtothe
lab,andthencompletedaninformedconsentformandintakepaperwork,includingabasic
demographicsform,theEdinburghHandednessInventory,andthePositiveandNegative
AffectScale(Watsonetal.,1988).Theywereprovidedwithabriefexplanationofthe
experimentalproceduresbeforeproceeding.
Forrecordingofelectroencephalographic(EEG)activity,participantswerethen
fittedwitha256channelarrayofsensors(Manufacturer:ElectricalGeodesicsInc.Eugene,
Oregon)..Thesensorarraywasconnectedtoa256channelDC(directcurrent)amplifier,
andthesignalsweretransmittedtoaMacProcomputer,wheretheyweredigitally
recordedforofflineanalysis(bandpass:DCto500Hz).Beforebeginningtheexperimental
task,scalptoelectrodeimpedanceswerechecked,andthesensorswereadjustedwhere
neededtoimprovecontactwiththescalp.Mostorallofthesensorswerekeptbelow50k
(channelswithpoorsignaltonoisewereremovedduringofflineanalysis)(Ferreeetal.,

66


2001).Participantsreceivedinstructionsandsomebrieftrainingonhowtominimize
physiologicalsourcesofnoise,orartifacts,duetoblinks,eyemovements,andmuscle
activitybeforethetaskwaspresented.
Participantsthenreceiveddetailedinstructionsaboutthestructureofthe
experiment(8blocksof120trials)andabouttheirtask.Stepbystepinstructionsand
samplequestionsweredisplayedona24inchCRTdisplay,followedbyashortpractice
blockbeforeBlock1(Task1)andBlock5(Task2;seebelowfortaskdesign).Eprime
experimentalcontrolsoftware(PsychologicalSoftware,Inc.)wasusedforstimulus
presentationandrecordingofbehavioraldata.
Experimentersprovidedwater,chocolate,andcoffeeonrequestandcommunicated
withparticipantsviaanintercomsystemduringbreaksbetweenexperimentalblocks.
Stimuli
Stimuliconsistedof120neutralorslightlypositivewordsand120negatively
valencedwords(seebelowforratings).Inaddition,eachstimuluswaspresentedineither
upperorlowercase.Thewordswerecombinedtoform120primetargetwordpairs(60
neutralwordsonlyappearedasprimes,and60appearedastargets;thenegativewords
werealsosplitintotwopsycholinguisticallymatchedsetsof60primesand60targets).
Eachstimuluspairbelongedtooneoffourconditions:(1)Casecongruent,valence
congruent(e.g.,bonusglory);(2)Casecongruent,valenceincongruent(e.g.,crash
sunshine),(3)Caseincongruent,valencecongruent;or(4)Casecongruent,valence
incongruent.Eachpositiveandeachnegativetargetappearedfourtimeswithineachtask,
thatis,exactlyonceperblock.Therewere16differentprimetargetwordpair
permutationsinall.Table3summarizesthe16typesofprimetargetpairs.

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TABLE3:Typesofwordpairs.

UpperUpper
UpperLower
Valenceand
Valencecongruent,
Negative
casecongruent,
caseincongruent,
Negative
Negative
Neutral
Neutral
Neutral
Neutral
Negative

e.g.,DEADCANCER
Valence
incongruent,
casecongruent,
e.g.,DEADPEACE
Valenceandcase
congruent,
e.g.,SILKPEACE
Valence
incongruent,
casecongruent,
e.g.,SILKCANCER

e.g.,DEADcancer
Valenceandcase
incongruent,
e.g.,DEADpeace

Valencecongruent,
caseincongruent,
e.g.,SILKpeace
Valenceandcase
incongruent,
e.g.,SILKcancer

LowerLower

LowerUpper

Valenceandcase
congruent,
e.g.,deadcancer
Valence
incongruent,
casecongruent,
e.g.,deadpeace
Valenceandcase
congruent,
e.g.,silkpeace
Valence
incongruent,
casecongruent,
e.g.,silkcancer

Valencecongruent,
caseincongruent,
e.g.,deadCANCER
Valenceandcase
incongruent,
e.g.,deadPEACE
Valencecongruent,
caseincongruent,
e.g.,silkPEACE
Valenceandcase
incongruent,
e.g.,silkCANCER

The16conditionswerecarefullybalancedinarousal(ratingsfromtheANEW
database)andinnumberofletters,partsofspeech,concreteness,frequency,familiarity,
andimageability.Inaddition,theprimetargetpairswerearrangedsotheyhadzero
forwardandbackwardassociativestrength,toensurethatanywordsemanticeffectscould
beunequivocallyattributedtovalence,asopposedtothanothersemanticdimensions.
Table4(nextpage)summarizesthestimulusproperties.

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Table4:Stimulusproperties.
Note:M=mean,S.D.=standarddeviation,Min.=minimum,Max.=maximumNeg.=negative,Pos.=
positiveVal.=valence,Aro.=arousal,#Let.=numberofletters,P.O.S.=partofspeech,Con.=
concreteness,Fam.=familiarity,Freq.=frequency,Imag.=imageability,N.=nouns,V.=verbs,A=
adjectives.
Word Val. Aro.
#Let.
P.O.S.
Con.
Fam.
Freq.
Imag.
Type
Neg.
3
6
4.87
36N.,
483
519
48.73
526
(M)

15V.,

9A.
Neg.
1
1
0.96

85
55
79.67
65
(S.D.)
Neg.
1
4
3

363
344
4
384
(Min.)
Neg.
4
8
6

644
609
464
634
(Max.)
Pos.
6
4
4.78
35N.,
465
535
67.42
495
(M)
12V.,
13A.
Pos.
1
0
0.96

112
54
79.05
92
(S.D.)
Pos.
4
3
3

231
381
4
304
(Min.)

Pos.
8
4
6

602
627
383
616
(Max.)
Pvalue 0
0
0.636

0.344
0.115
0.200
0.038

Again,itisimportanttonotethatthesamewordpairswerepresentedinthe
valenceandcasetasks.Theorderofpresentationwasrandomizedwithineachtaskblock.
Thus,participantssawthesamewordpairsduringthetwotasks.SeeExperimentalTask,
below,fordetailsonstimuluspresentationandstimulusorder.
ExperimentalTask
Theexperimentaltaskconsistedof960trials,whichwerepresentedineightblocks
of120trials(Task1:Blocks14;Task2:Blocks58).Participantswereencouragedtorest
betweenblocksandwereprovidedwithchocolateorrefreshmentsonrequest.

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Eachtrialbeganwiththepresentationofarectangularoutline,whichcuedthe
subjecttoinitiatetheexperimentalsequencewhenreadybypressingtherightorleft
responsekey.Duringtheintertrialinterval,participantswerepermittedtoblink,itch,or
adjusttheirposition,afterwhichtheywereaskedtocountslowlytotentoallowthe
amplifiertorecoverbeforeusingtheresponsekeystoadvancetothenexttrial.Oncethe
subjectinitiatedatrial,acentralfixation(+symbol)appearedfor500ms.Theword(the
prime)wasthenpresentedfoveallyfor35msandwasforwardandbackwardmaskedto
reducethelikelihoodthatitwouldbeconsciouslyperceived(seeFig.1below).The
forwardmaskconsistedfollowedafterashortinterval(35ms)byasecondword(the
target).Thusthestimulusonsetasynchrony(SOA)was70ms.Thetargetlastedfor3,000
ms.Thesubjecttaskwastodecideasquicklyandaccuratelyaspossiblewhetherthetarget
wordwas,orboth.Theyweretoansweryesiftheprobewasrelatedtotheprime,target,
orboththeprimeandtarget,andtoanswernoiftheprobewasunrelatedtoeitherthe
primeortarget.ThestimulusprotocolisillustratedinFigure1.

Figure3:Stimulusprotocol.

70

Asnotedabove,subjectsfirstcompletedfourblocksinwhichtheywereaskedto
focusononeofthetwostimulusfeaturesofinterest(valenceorcase).IntheValenceTask,
theywereaskedtorespondasquicklyaspossiblewhetherthetargetstimuluswasa
stronglynegativeword,ornot.IntheCaseTask,theyweretorespondasquicklyas
possibleaccordingtowhetherthetargetstimuluswasanupperorlowercaseword.Yes
andno(rightvs.left)keyswerecounterbalancedacrossparticipantsforbothtasks.In
addition,theorderinwhichthetargetsappearedandtheorderofthetwotaskswere
counterbalancedacrossparticipants.
ResponsetimeandaccuracywererecordedusingEprimeexperimentalcontrol
software(PsychologicalSoftware,Inc.).Incorrecttrials,andtrialsonwhichRTwasless
than100msorgreaterthan3,000ms,wererejectedpriortoanalyses.
ERPDataPreprocessing

Thecontinuous(raw)EEGwassegmentedinto1,300msepochs,starting400ms

beforeonsetoftheprimeword.Segmenteddatawerethendigitallyfilteredwitha.01hz
highpassfilteranda30Hzlowpassfilter.Channelsthatwereconsistentlynoisywere
removedandinterpolatedusingdatafromsurroundingchannels.Thecleaned,segmented
datawerethenaveragedacrosstrials(withinparticipantsandwithincondition),resulting
inasetofeventrelatedpotentials,orERPs.ERPdatawererereferencedtotheaverageof
the256recordingsitesandwerebaselinecorrected,usingtheaverageofthe400mspre
primeepoch.TheindividualsubjectERPswerethensubjectedtostatisticalanalyses.
Grandaverageddatawereusedforinspectionofwaveformsandtopographicplots.Ttests
wereusedforqualitative(uncorrectedstatistical)comparisonofERPsacrosstasksand

71


conditions(primetargetcaseandvalencecongruency).
BehavioralandERPPatternExtractionStatisticalAnalysis
Theeffectsofprimetargetcongruencywereassessedwithbehavioraland
electrophysiological(ERP)measures.Thegoalwastotestwhethertaskcongruency
significantlyimpactedparticipantsbehavioralorelectrophysiologicalresponsestothe
stimulidifferentlyinthecaseandvalencetasks.Thus,bothbehavioralandERPdifferences
betweentaskcongruentandtaskincongruentwordpairswerecomparedwithinboththe
caseandvalencetasks.
Forstatisticalanalysesofbehavioraldata,atwowayanalysisofvariance(ANOVA)
wasperformedontheparticipantdata.Themaineffectoftaskonbothreactiontime(F(2,
36)=93.67,p<0.001)andaccuracy(F(2,36)=192.71,p<0.001)wassignificant.Follow
upcontrastsdemonstratedthatresponsestocasecongruentwordpairs(240)were
significantlyfasterrelativetocaseincongruentpairs(240)duringthecasetask[F(2,36)=
26.75,p<0.001].
Casetaskresults.Participantswerealwaysfaster(MCaseTask=527ms;MValenceTask=
734ms),andmoreaccurate(MCaseTask=0.978;MValenceTask=0.921)duringthecasetask.
Therewasalsoasignificantmaineffectofcasecongruence.Reactiontimeswerespeeded
(F(2,36)=4.888,p=0.033)andaccuracywashigher(F(2,36)=15.17,p<0.001)when
pairswerecasecongruent.However,thiseffectonreactiontimewasdrivenbythesizeable
interactionbetweencasecongruenceandtask(F(2,37)=26.75,p<0.001).Thatis,case
congruenceacceleratedreactionsduringthecasetask,butnotduringthevalencetask
(Mcong.=516ms,Mincon.=539ms;t(36)=6.882,p<0.001).Casecongruencedidnot
impactreactiontimessignificantlyduringthevalencetask(Mcong.=736ms,Mincong.=732

72


ms;t(36)=0.008,p=0.994).Primetargetcasecongruencyspeededresponsetimeonly
duringthecasetask,andhadnoimpactonbehaviorduringthevalencetask.
Similarly,themaineffectofcasecongruencyonaccuracyresultedfromthestrength
ofthecasetaskeffects.Duringthecasetask,responsestocasecongruentpairsweremore
accurate(Mcong.=0.981,Mincong.=0.975;t(36)=2.477,p=0.018).Casecongruencedidnot
impactaccuracyduringthevalencetask(Mcong.=0.921,Mincong.=0.920,t(36)=0.401,p=
0.691).Aswithreactiontimes,casecongruencyimprovedaccuracyonlyduringthecase
task.
Valencetaskresults.Reactiontimeswerenotsignificantlydifferentforvalence
congruentandincongruentpairsacrossthecase(Mcong.=528ms,Mincong.=527ms;t(36)=
0.065,p=0.949)andvalencetasks(Mcong.=732ms,Mincong..=737ms;t(36)=1.083,p=
0.286).Similarly,valencecongruencedidnotsignificantlyimproveaccuracyduringthe
valencetask(Mcong.=0.923,Mincong.=0.919;t(36)=1.372,p=0.179).
ERPresults.CasecongruencemodulatedtheoccipitotemporalN170component
onlyduringthecasetask.Caseincongruentpairs,suchasSILKcancerandsilkPEACE,
generatedanamplifiedN170visviscongruentpairs,suchassilkcancerorSILK
PEACE(seeFigure4a).Thiseffectdisappearedinthevalencetask:N170amplitudesdid
notdifferacrossanyofthewordpairs,regardlessoftheircasecongruence(seeFigure3c).
Thus,pairslikeSILKcancer,silkPEACE,silkcancer,andSILKPEACE,allproduced
similarN170components,regardlessoftheircasecongruence.
Primetargetvalencecongruencydidaffectneuralactivitydifferentlyduringthetwo
tasks.Valencecongruencyimpactedprocessinginbothorbitofrontalandcentroparietal
regionsdifferentlyduringthecaseandvalencetasks.Earlyorbitofrontaldifferences

73


betweenvalencecongruentandincongruentpairsweremaximalapproximately240ms
afterpresentationofthetarget(t(32)=4.4,p<0.001)(seeFigure5).Asecondsignificant
differenceinorbitofrontalactivityemergedatapproximately584msanddiminishedby
706msposttarget.Thislatedifferencebetweenresponsestocongruentandincongruent
pairspeakedat660msposttarget(t(32)=6.0,p<0.001).
Activityinthecentroparietalregionwasalsomodulatedbypairsvalence
congruenceduringthevalencetask.Congruentandincongruentpairsgenerated
significantlydifferentpatternsofelectrophysiologicalactivityinthisregionfrom
approximately170to260msposttarget(t(32)=4.5,p<0.001)(seeFigure5).After
diminishingslightly,valencecongruencedifferencesinthisregionpeakedagainat
approximately338msposttarget(t(32)=4.7,p<0.001).
Inadditiontothesedifferencesbetweenelectrophysiologicalresponsestopairs
betweenthetwotasks,thevalencecongruencyofprimetargetwordpairsmodulateda
lateorbitofrontalcomponentduringthevalencetaskonly(seeFigure4b).Theamplitudeof
thisERPwasenhanced,thatis,itwasmorenegative,afterparticipantssawincongruent
pairs.Thus,duringthevalencetaskonly,valenceincongruentpairslikeSILKcancerand
deadpeaceamplifiedorbitofrontalactivity,whereasvalencecongruentpairslikesilk
peaceandDEADmenacedidnot.Theorbitofrontalcomponentwasnotmodulatedby
thevalencecongruencyofprimetargetwordpairsduringthecasetask(seeFigure4d).
ForfurtheranalysisofERPdata,seeStenson&Frishkoff(inprep.).

74

Figure4a:CasetaskcasecongruencyN170ERP

Figure4b:Valencetaskvalencecongruencyorbitofrontaleffects

75

Figure4c:ValencetaskcasecongruencyN170nulleffect

Figure4d:Casetaskvalencecongruencyorbitofrontalnulleffect

76

Figure5:TaskcongruencycentroparietalERPdifferences

77