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1.  Consciousness and cognitive control 
The implementation or change of information processing routines, known as cognitive control, is traditionally believed to be closely linked to consciousness. It seems that we exert control over our behavior if we know the reasons for, and consequences of, doing so. Recent research suggests, however, that several behavioral phenomena that have been construed as instances of cognitive control can be prompted by events of which actors are not aware. Here we give a brief review of this research, discuss possible reasons for inconsistencies in the empirical evidence, and suggest some lines of future research. Specifically, we suggest to differentiate cognitive control evoked either because of explicit or because of implicit control cues. While the former type of control seems to work outside of awareness, the latter type of control seems to be restricted to consciously registered events that call for control.
PMCID: PMC3303114  PMID: 22419962
cognitive control; consciousness; priming
2.  Follow the sign! Top-down contingent attentional capture of masked arrow cues 
Arrow cues and other overlearned spatial symbols automatically orient attention according to their spatial meaning. This renders them similar to exogenous cues that occur at stimulus location. Exogenous cues trigger shifts of attention even when they are presented subliminally. Here, we investigate to what extent the mechanisms underlying the orienting of attention by exogenous cues and by arrow cues are comparable by analyzing the effects of visible and masked arrow cues on attention. In Experiment 1, we presented arrow cues with overall 50% validity. Visible cues, but not masked cues, lead to shifts of attention. In Experiment 2, the arrow cues had an overall validity of 80%. Now both visible and masked arrows lead to shifts of attention. This is in line with findings that subliminal exogenous cues capture attention only in a top-down contingent manner, that is, when the cues fit the observer’s intentions.
PMCID: PMC3259029  PMID: 22253671
attention; arrow cues; spatial cuing; masked priming; contingent capture

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