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Can J Psychiatry. 1985 Feb;30(1):22-7.

Psychophysiological responses to masked auditory stimuli.


Psychophysiological responses to masked auditory verbal stimuli of increasing intensities were studied in twenty healthy women. Two experimental sessions corresponding to two stimulation contents (neutral or emotional) were conducted. At each session, two different sets of instructions (attending or not attending to stimuli) were used successively. Verbal stimuli, masked by a 40-dB white noise, were presented to the subject at increasing intensities by increments of 5 dB starting at 0 dB. At each increment, frontal EMG, skin conductance and heart rate were recorded. The data were submitted to analyses of variance and covariance. Psychophysiological responses to stimuli below the thresholds of identification and detection were observed. The instruction not to attend the stimuli modified the patterns of physiological responses. The effect of the affective content of the stimuli on responses was stronger when not attending. The results show the possibility of psychophysiological responses to masked auditory stimuli and suggests that psychophysiological parameters can constitute objective and useful measures for research in auditory subliminal perception.

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