Unconscious priming of a no-go response

Hughes, Gethin; Velmans, Max and De Fockert, J. W.. 2009. Unconscious priming of a no-go response. Psychophysiology, 46(6), pp. 1258-1269. ISSN 0048-5772 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Although previous findings suggest that motor preparation can be initiated unconsciously, there is some debate as to whether inhibitory control can occur unconsciously. Results from research involving response conflict points to an association between inhibitory control and conscious awareness. However, no previous research has assessed whether unconscious information can influence brain activity correlates of inhibition when a response must be completely withheld. We recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) in a go/no-go task with subliminal primes and demonstrated that inhibition-related ERP components were modulated as a function of the congruency of the primes. Furthermore, these ERP modulations were directly related to the extent to which participants' performance was influenced by the primes. These findings suggest that inhibition of an impending motor action can be initiated by an unconscious stimulus.

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Additional Information:

This research was supported by an Economic and Social Research Council grant (PTA-030-2003-01369) awarded to G. H. We are grateful to Zara Bergström, Nick Yeung, Sara Garib-Penna, and Eva Van den Bussche for helpful comments on the manuscript.


Unconscious processes, EEG/ERP, Normal volunteers

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12 October 2009Published
17 August 2009Published Online
20 February 2009Accepted

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07 Mar 2011 14:06

Last Modified:

03 Apr 2019 15:50

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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