Subliminal access to abstract face representations does not rely on attention

Bronson B. Harry, Chris Wayne Davis, Jeesun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The present study used masked repetition priming to examine whether face representations can be accessed without attention. Two experiments using a face recognition task (fame judgement) presented masked repetition and control primes in spatially unattended locations prior to target onset. Experiment 1 (n=20) used the same images as primes and as targets and Experiment 2 (n=17) used different images of the same individual as primes and targets. Repetition priming was observed across both experiments regardless of whether spatial attention was cued to the location of the prime. Priming occurred for both famous and non-famous targets in Experiment 1 but was only reliable for famous targets in Experiment 2, suggesting that priming in Experiment 1 indexed access to view-specific representations whereas priming in Experiment 2 indexed access to view-invariant, abstract representations. Overall, the results indicate that subliminal access to abstract face representations does not rely on attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-583
Number of pages11
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Face identification
  • Masked repetition priming
  • Spatial attention


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