Schlaghecken, F., & Eimer, M. (2000). A central/peripheral asymmetry in subliminal priming. Perception & Psychophysics, 62, 1367-1382.
Masked primes presented prior to a target result in behavioural benefits on incompatible trials (where prime and target are mapped onto opposite responses) when they appear at fixation, but in behavioural benefits on compatible trials (where prime and target are mapped onto the same response) when appearing peripherally. Experiment 1 investigated the time course of this central-peripheral asymmetry (CPA). For central primes, compatible-trial benefits at short SOAs turned into incompatible-trial benefits at longer SOAs. For peripheral primes, compatible-trial benefits at short SOAs increased in size with longer SOAs. Experiment 2 showed that these effects also occur when primes and targets are physically dissimilar, ruling out an interpretation in terms of perceptual properties of the stimulus material. Experiments 3 and 4 investigated whether the CPA is related to visual-spatial attention and/or to retinal eccentricity per se. Results indicate that the CPA is independent of attentional factors, but strongly related to the physiological inhomogenity of the retina. It is argued that central and peripheral primes trigger an initial motor activation, which is inhibited only if primes are presented at retinal locations of sufficiently high perceptual sensitivity. Results are discussed in terms of an activation threshold model.