Further evidence for unconscious learning: Preliminary support for the conditioning of facial EMG to subliminal stimuli

Scott Bunce, Edward Bernat, Philip S. Wong, Howard Shevrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigated the predictive validity of facial electromyograms (EMGs) in a subliminal conditioning paradigm. Two schematic faces (pleasant; CS- and unpleasant; CS+), were presented to eight right-handed males during supraliminal pre- and postconditioning phases. Subliminal conditioning consisted of 36 energy-masked presentations of each face pairing the CS+ with an aversive shock 800 ms poststimulus. A forced-choice recognition task established that the energy mask effectively precluded conscious recognition of stimuli. For the obicularis oculi and corrugator EMGs, significant face x condition interactions were found at 20-100 ms and 400-792 ms poststimulus. The results demonstrate the existence of an expressive motoric response related to affect operating in response to a learned but unconscious event. Subjects were not aware of a contingency between the CS+ and the US, suggesting emotional contingencies can be unconsciously acquired.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-347
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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