Setting the stage subliminally: Unconscious context effects

Consciousness and Cognition 20 (4):1860-1864 (2011)

Abstract

An important approach to understand how the brain gives rise to consciousness is to probe the depth of unconscious processing, thus to define the key features that cause conscious awareness. Here, we investigate the possibility for subliminal stimuli to shape the context for unconscious processing. Context effects have generally been assumed to require consciousness. In the present experiment, unconscious context processing was investigated by looking at the impact of the context on the response activation elicited by a subliminal prime. We compared the effects of the same subliminal prime on target processing when the prime was embedded in different unconscious contexts. Results showed that the same prime can evoke opposite responses depending on the unconscious context in which it is presented. Taken together, the results of this study show that context effects can be unconscious

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