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Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Today, it is generally accepted that unconscious stimuli can activate a response code, which leads to a response congruency effect (RCE) on a subsequent target. However, it is not yet clear whether this is due to the semantic processing of the primes or to the formation of direct stimulus-response (S-R) associations bypassing the semantic system. Recently, it was shown that even novel primes, for which no direct S-R links exist, can also evoke an RCE that is in line with the activation of response codes through semantics. In these experiments, the authors examined 3 alternatives for this RCE from novel primes and report a novel effect in unconscious priming. First, the authors show that this effect is not limited to a small set of numerical stimuli but also extends to letter stimuli (Experiments 1-3). Second, the authors show that the RCE is not a side effect of the prime-target distance effect, as has been reported before (Experiments 1-2). Third, the authors found that, for RCE to occur, overlap at the motor level but not at the semantic level was crucial (Experiments 2-3). Finally, in addition, the results showed a category match priming effect independent of RCE. This last result is evidence that novel unconscious primes activate their semantic category prior to the target and might be considered a good marker for semantic processing.