Masked and unmasked priming in schizophrenia

Consciousness and Cognition 22 (4):1206-1213 (2013)
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Dehaene et al. (2003) showed an absence of conscious, but not masked, conflict effects when patients with schizophrenia performed a number-categorisation priming task. We aimed to replicate these influential results using a different word-categorisation priming task. Counter to Dehaene et al.'s findings, 21 patients and 20 healthy controls showed similar congruence effects for both masked and visible primes. Within patients, a reduced congruence effect for visible primes associated with longer duration of illness and more severe behavioural disorganisation. Patients, unlike controls, were no slower to respond to targets that followed visible compared to masked primes. Conscious conflict effects on priming tasks are not universally reduced in schizophrenia but may associate with chronicity and behavioural disorganisation. That patients were no slower when the preceding primes were clearly visible accords with evidence elsewhere that information processing in schizophrenia is driven more by immediate conscious experience and constrained less by prior events



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