Behavior in Oblivion: The Neurobiology of Subliminal Priming

C. Jacobs, A.T. Sack

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Subliminal priming refers to behavioral modulation by an unconscious stimulus, and can thus be regarded as a form of unconscious visual processing. Theories on recurrent processing have suggested that the neural correlate of consciousness (NCC) comprises of the non-hierarchical transfer of stimulus-related information. According to these models, the neural correlate of subliminal priming (NCSP) corresponds to the visual processing within the feedforward sweep. Research from cognitive neuroscience on these two concepts and the relationship between them is discussed here. Evidence favoring the necessity of recurrent connectivity for visual awareness is accumulating, although some questions, such as the need for global versus local recurrent processing, are not clarified yet. However, this is not to say that recurrent processing is sufficient for consciousness, as a neural definition of consciousness in terms of recurrent connectivity would imply. We argue that the limited interest cognitive neuroscience currently has for the NCSP is undeserved, because the discovery of the NCSP can give insight into why people do (and do not) express certain behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-241
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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