Learning of predictive relations between events depends on attention, not on awareness

Consciousness and Cognition 20 (2):368-378 (2011)
It is generally assumed that storing predictive relations between two events in memory as bi-directional associations does not require conscious awareness of this relation, whereas the formation of unidirectional associations that capture the direction of the relation does. This study reports a set of experiments demonstrating that unidirectional associations can be formed even when awareness of the relation is actively prevented, if attention is “tuned” to process predictive relations. When participants engaged in predicting targets based on cues in an unrelated task before the actual acquisition phase, unidirectional associations were formed during this acquisition phase even though E1 was presented subliminally. This suggests that although processing the relation between events may often be accompanied by awareness of this relation, awareness is not a prerequisite for the formation of unidirectional associations
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DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2010.05.011
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