Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Measuring unconscious processes in visual word recognition using two -alternative forced choice tasks in conjunction with confidence ratings and psychophysiological recordings
by Gorbunova, Anastasia A., Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2009, 143; 3387453
Abstract (Summary)

The present dissertation aims to evaluate the phenomenon of visual masking as a tool for studying visual awareness focusing on two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) discrimination tasks. Two existing theories of masking – Bachmann's (1984) perceptual retouch theory and Marcel's (1983) recovery theory – are discussed along with the global neuronal workspace theory of awareness (Baars. 1989; Dehaene, Kerszberg, & Changeux, 1998). Performance accuracy on Semantic discrimination is compared to that on Orthographic discrimination as an indication of a potential difference between semantic and orthographic processing of masked word stimuli presented for 40 ms and 50 ms. This is further compared to an e-detection task previously used as an indicator of awareness in some masked priming experiments. Together, these tasks are further evaluated in terms of their relationship with participants' subjective reports collected in the form of confidence ratings. The implications and predictions drawn from the theories of masking and visual awareness as well as the notion of partial awareness (Kouider & Dupoux, 2001) are assessed taking into account the data obtained in the current experiments.

The relevance of these data for masked priming is determined by performing a comparison between 2AFC discrimination and detection tasks, and the lexical decision task. An ERP study is also presented, in which Semantic and Orthographic discrimination as well as e-detection are paired with confidence ratings and electrophysiological recordings in search of an ERP component that can be correlated with both subjective (confidence) and objective (performance) measures of awareness. A binding account of visual awareness with special attention paid to visual masking is proposed and compared to the three existing theories.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Forster, Kenneth I.
Commitee: Allen, John JB, Garrett, Merrill F., Glisky, Elizabeth L., Nicol, Janet L.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 71/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Experimental psychology, Quantitative psychology, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Confidence, Event-related potentials, Forced choice tasks, Masked priming, Masking, Two-alternative forced choice, Unconscious processes, Visual awareness, Visual word recognition
Publication Number: 3387453
ISBN: 9781109535013