Subliminal Perception of Pictures in the Right Hemisphere

Consciousness and Cognition 2 (3):225-236 (1993)
Abstract
We addressed the questions whether stimuli presented below the threshold of verbal awareness are nevertheless perceived and whether there are perceptual differences between the two cerebral hemispheres. Pictures of line drawn objects and animals were subliminally presented to each visual half-field for subsequent identification in a form as fragmented as possible. The performance of 40 healthy subjects was compared to that of 63 controls. Whereas identification performance after blank presentation in the experimental group did not differ from that of controls, identification in a significantly more fragmented form was achieved after the presentation of the complete picture. This effect, however, occurred only after subliminal stimulation in the left visual field, i.e., of the right hemisphere. Our results show that pictures presented below the threshold of verbal awareness can be perceived, and that only the right hemisphere can perceive them and make use of the perception. It remains an open question whether this kind of hemispheric specialization represents a right hemisphere dominance for subliminal perception or reflects an inability of the left hemisphere to access and behaviorally use unaware percepts via fragmented picture identification, for which a right hemisphere advantage is known
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