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Influences of unconscious priming on voluntary actions: Role of the rostral cingulate zone

Teuchies, M; Demanet, J; Sidarus, N; Haggard, P; Stevens, MA; Brass, M; (2016) Influences of unconscious priming on voluntary actions: Role of the rostral cingulate zone. Neuroimage , 135 pp. 243-252. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.04.036. Green open access

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Abstract

The ability to make voluntary, free choices is fundamental to what it means to be human. A key brain region that is involved in free choices is the rostral cingulate zone (RCZ), which is part of the medial frontal cortex. Previous research has shown that activity in this brain region can be modulated by bottom-up information while making free choices. The current study extends those findings, and shows, for the first time, that activation in the RCZ can also be modulated by subliminal information. We used a subliminal response priming paradigm to bias free and cued choices. We observed more activation in the RCZ when participants made a choice that went against the prime's suggestion, compared to when they chose according to the prime. This shows that the RCZ plays an important role in overcoming externally-triggered conflict between different response options, even when the stimuli triggering this conflict are not consciously perceived. Our results suggest that an important mechanism of endogenous action in the RCZ may therefore involve exerting an internally-generated action choice against conflicting influences, such as external sensory evidence. We further found that subliminal information also modulated activity in the anterior insula and the supramarginal gyrus.

Type: Article
Title: Influences of unconscious priming on voluntary actions: Role of the rostral cingulate zone
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.04.036
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.04.036
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Keywords: Free choice; Rostral cingulate zone; Intentional control; Volition; Subliminal response priming; Response conflict
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1493550
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