Unconscious detection of one’s own image

Contributors:
  1. Maria M. Nowicka
  2. Michał Bola
  3. Anna Nowicka

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Description: A key mechanism behind preferential processing of self-related information might be an early and automatic capture of attention. Therefore, the present study tested a hypothesis that the self-face will attract bottom-up attention even without conscious identification. To this end we used a dot-probe paradigm with electrophysiological recordings, in which masked and unmasked pairs of faces (other, self) were presented laterally (N =18). Analysis of the sensitivity measure indicates that faces were not consciously identified in the masked condition. A clear N2pc component (neural marker of attention shifts) was found in both masked and unmasked conditions, revealing that the self-face automatically captures attention when processed unconsciously. Therefore, our study: (1) demonstrates that self-related information is boosted at an early (preconscious) stage of processing, (2) identifies further features (beyond simple physical ones) which cause automatic attention capture, and (3) provides further evidence for the dissociative nature of attention and consciousness.

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