The Mechanics of Masked Priming
THE MASKED PRIMING PARADIGM In a typical priming experiment, two stimuli are presented successively. The first is referred to as the prime, and the second, the target. The task required of the subject is to respond in some way to the target. Priming is said to occur when the prime facilitates the response to the target, relative to some neutral baseline. Unlike the standard long-term priming paradigm, where the time interval between the prime and target might be of the order of many minutes, with many intervening items, masked priming usually involves a very short interval, with no intervening items. Furthermore, the prime is presented for such a brief period of time that subjects are largely unaware of the nature of the prime. Of crucial importance in this regard is the presence of a forward mask presented immediately prior to the prime.