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Cereb Cortex. 2006 Jun;16(6):857-64. Epub 2005 Aug 31.

Changes in connectivity profiles as a mechanism for strategic control over interfering subliminal information.

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  • 1NeuroImage Nord, Department of Systems Neuroscience, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany.


Human behavior can be influenced by information that is not consciously perceived. Recent behavioral and electrophysiological evidence suggests, however, that the processing of subliminal stimuli is not completely beyond an observer's conscious control. The present study aimed to characterize the cortical network that implements strategic control over interfering subliminal information at multiple stages. Fourteen participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning while performing a metacontrast masking paradigm. We systematically varied the amount of conflicting versus non-conflicting trials across experimental blocks, and behavioral performance demonstrated strategic effects whenever a high proportion of subliminal prime stimuli induced response competition. A psychophysiological interaction analysis revealed the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) to exhibit context-dependent covariation with activation in the lateral occipital complex (LOC) and the putamen. The pre-SMA thereby appears to fulfill a superordinate function in the control of processing subliminal information by simultaneously modulating perceptual analysis and motor selection.

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