Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Recent neuroimaging experiments have revealed that subliminal priming of a target stimulus leads to the reduction of neural activity in specific regions concerned with processing the target. Such findings lead to questions about the degree to which the subliminal priming effect is based only on decreased activity in specific local brain regions, as opposed to the influence of neural mechanisms that regulate communication between brain regions. To address this question, this study recorded EEG during performance of a subliminal semantic priming task. We adopted an information-based approach that used independent component analysis and multivariate autoregressive modeling. Results indicated that subliminal semantic priming caused significant modulation of alpha band activity in the left inferior frontal cortex and modulation of gamma band activity in the left inferior temporal regions. The multivariate autoregressive approach confirmed significant increases in information flow from the inferior frontal cortex to inferior temporal regions in the early time window that was induced by subliminal priming. In the later time window, significant enhancement of bidirectional causal flow between these two regions underlying subliminal priming was observed. Results suggest that unconscious processing of words influences not only local activity of individual brain regions but also the dynamics of neural communication between those regions.