Identity Negative Priming: A Phenomenon of Perception, Recognition or Selection?

Hecke Schrobsdorff, Matthias Ihrke, Jörg Behrendt, J. Michael Herrmann, Marcus Hasselhorn

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The present study addresses the problem whether negative priming (NP) is due to information processing in perception, recognition or selection. We argue that most NP studies confound priming and perceptual similarity of prime-probe episodes and implement a color-switch paradigm in order to resolve the issue. In a series of three identity negative priming experiments with verbal naming response, we determined when NP and positive priming (PP) occur during a trial. The first experiment assessed the impact of target color on priming effects. It consisted of two blocks, each with a different fixed target color. With respect to target color no differential priming effects were found. In Experiment 2 the target color was indicated by a cue for each trial. Here we resolved the confounding of perceptual similarity and priming condition. In trials with coinciding colors for prime and probe, we found priming effects similar to Experiment 1. However, trials with a target color switch showed such effects only in trials with role-reversal (distractor-to-target or target-to-distractor), whereas the positive priming (PP) effect in the target-repetition trials disappeared. Finally, Experiment 3 split trial processing into two phases by presenting the trial-wise color cue only after the stimulus objects had been recognized. We found recognition in every priming condition to be faster than in control trials. We were hence led to the conclusion that PP is strongly affected by perception, in contrast to NP which emerges during selection, i.e., the two effects cannot be explained by a single mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2012


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