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Villa, K.K. Shevrin, H. Snodgrass, M. Bazan, A. Brakel, L.A. (2006). Response to Commentaries. Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(2):155-166.

(2006). Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(2):155-166

Response to Commentaries Related Papers

Karen Klein Villa, Howard Shevrin, Michael Snodgrass, Ariane Bazan and Linda A. W. Brakel

Psychoanalytic and Cognitive Convergences in Nonconscious Lexical Processing

Response to Orsucci

We are grateful to the commentators for their scholarly and thought-provoking response to our target article and for the interesting theoretical and technical questions their response has generated. The Shevrin group has engaged in a long tradition of subliminal perception studies addressing a number of phenomena regarding primary and secondary-process mentation, including physiological markers of unconscious conflict, affect, defense, and the attributional vs. relational nature of these two modes of processing. The current study focuses on the nature of language processing in the unconscious, where we hypothesized that words would be treated as perceptual stimuli and processed in a bidirectional manner. We sought to determine if the structural aspect of a lexical item was processed separately from its referent or semantic associate. This type of lexical modularity was postulated early on by Freud and has been outlined in contemporary models of language architecture. As stated previously, our palindrome finding did not emerge as a main effect; however, once the moderating variables of stimulus detectability and anxiety were taken into account, the perceptual treatment of words in the subliminal condition did emerge. In particular, high anxiety activated semantic associations and low anxiety inhibited semantic associations to the palindrome prime. We propose, therefore, that novel and creative sequencing of linguistic units (i.e., the word is treated as a perceptual object) predominates in unconscious cognitive processing and that this novel sequencing potentially contributes to ambiguity exploitation and resolution for such processes as condensation and displacement.

It is true that in understanding our findings, we integrated ideas and theoretical contributions from a wide variety of disciplines including psychoanalysis, psycholinguistics, cognitive neuroscience, experimental psychology (e.g., signal-detection theory), and neuropsychology.

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