Consciousness and Cognition 17 (4):1105-1113 (2008)
There are wide individual differences in the ability to detect a stimulus contingency embedded in a complex paradigm. The present study used a cognitive masking paradigm to better understand individual differences related to contingency learning. Participants were assessed on measures of electrodermal arousal and on working memory capacity before engaging in the contingency learning task. Contingency awareness was assessed both by trial-by-trial verbal reports obtained during the task and by a short post-task recognition questionnaire. Participants who became aware had fewer non-specific skin conductance responses and tended to score higher on a digit span assessment. Skin conductance level was not significantly lower in the aware group than in the unaware group. These findings are consistent with studies showing that lower arousal and greater cognitive processing capacity facilitate conscious perception of a greater breadth of information within a scene or a task
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