ASSC14_PosterPrize_Science_Charles_Error-related brain activity under subliminal versus conscious conditions
Recent studies showed that the ERN is unchanged when subjects are not aware of making an error. However these studies focused exclusively on awareness of error or awareness of action using attention distraction methods. By contrast, we manipulated awareness of the visual target and assessed if an ERN could be observed in response to complete subliminal stimuli. We found that : (a) the ERN is drastically reduced (but not completely absent) under subliminal conditions, i.e. when subjects report not having seen the stimulus; (b) the ERN amplitude shows a threshold effect, increasing suddenly on seen trials and further increasing with SOA. These results suggest that different types of accumulation of evidence processes are deployed on conscious vs subliminal trials. They are consistent with the hypothesis that subliminal stimuli, compared to pre-conscious or consciously accessed stimuli, fail to trigger higher-order cognitive control processes.