Time of Day Affects Implicit Memory for Unattended Stimuli


We investigated whether circadian arousal affects perceptual priming as a function of whether stimuli were attended or ignored during learning. We tested 160 participants on- and off-peak with regards to their circadian arousal. In the study phase, they were presented with two superimposed pictures in different colours. They had to name the pictures of one colour while ignoring the others. In the test phase, they were presented with the same and randomly intermixed new pictures. Each picture was presented in black colour in a fragment completion task. Priming was measured as the difference in fragmentation level at which the pictures from the study phase were named compared to the new pictures. Priming was stronger for attended than ignored pictures. Time of day affected priming only for ignored pictures, with stronger priming effects off-peak than on-peak. Thus, circadian arousal seems to favour the encoding of unattended materials specifically at off-peak.

Consciousness and Cognition