In the first two blocks, the sexual images were presented subliminally and in the second two blocks, they were presented supraliminally.
To be able to maintain a consistent design across both subliminal and supraliminal presentation conditions, we embedded the sexual cues as primes before each trial within a cognitive task in which participants were asked to rate their liking of abstract images. The present study The present work was set to extend existing findings by investigating the neural mechanisms underlying the different responses to subliminal vs.The present study The present work was set to extend existing findings by investigating the neural mechanisms underlying the different responses to subliminal vs. For Permissions, please email: journals. Using well-validated social-cognitive methods i. Beauregard et al. The neutral images were abstract drawings matched for size and contrast with the sexual images. Hence, some of the observed brain activation was likely due to setting-related regulation rather than arousal. Specifically, subliminal exposure resulted in higher accessibility of sex-related thoughts assessed via a reaction-time task , but no increase—or even a decrease among women—in subjective sexual arousal. The problem with relying on studies such as Beauregard et al. However, not all of these areas were identified in all of the studies they reviewed and many studies showed activation in other brain areas as well. When negative affect is involved, the reaction is not simply desynchronized with the physiological one, but can actually dampen or inhibit it e. Supraliminal exposure was associated with greater activation in areas that were previously associated with sexual arousal e. Whereas most studies on neural correlates of sexual arousal were done with men, there is some research comparing men's and women's responses to sexual cues. Subliminal priming occurs when an individual is exposed to stimuli below the threshold of perception [ 2 ], as detailed in Figure 1.
These studies suggest that two neural systems or processes might be activated when people are exposed to sexual cues: one related to automatic arousal or appraisal and the other related to regulation.
Numerous papers from various domains such as memory Rugg et al. This suggests that when examining brain activation associated with exposure to sexual stimuli, gender should be considered. Seventeen people reported being currently in a relationship 8 men and 9 womenwith the remaining participants reporting being single 11 men and women.For example, exposure to a sexual stimulus e. Abstract The influence of subliminal priming behavior outside of awareness in humans is an interesting phenomenon and its understanding is crucial as it can impact behavior, choices, and actions. For example, Yang et al. This suggests that when examining brain activation associated with exposure to sexual stimuli, gender should be considered. Hence, some of the observed brain activation was likely due to setting-related regulation rather than arousal. Each trial consisted of a cue directing attention to the center of the screen ms , followed by a forward mask scrambled picture; ms , sexual prime 24 ms or ms , a backward mask ms , and then a target image for ms Figure 1. Participants were all students at a mid-size American university recruited via flyers hanged around campus and were paid for their participation.
These findings, while providing further support for Janssen et al. In a similar investigation using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, Leon-Carrion et al.