Subliminal temporal integration of linguistic information under discontinuous flash suppression

Shao Min Hung*, Po Jang Hsieh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Whether unconscious complex visual information integration occurs over time remains largely unknown and highly controversial. Previous studies have tended to use a combination of strong masking or suppression and a weak stimulus signal (e.g., low luminance), resulting in a low signal-to-noise ratio during unconscious stimulus presentation. To lengthen the stimulus exposure, we introduced intermittent presentation into interocular suppression. This discontinuous suppression allowed us to insert a word during each suppression period and deliver multiple words over time unconsciously. We found that, after participants received the subliminal context, they responded faster to a syntactically incongruent target word in a lexical decision task. We later replicated the finding in a separate experiment where participants exhibited chance performance on locating the subliminal context. These results confirmed that the sentential context was both subjectively and objectively subliminal. Critically, the effect disappeared when the context was disrupted by presenting only partial sentences or sentences with a reversed word order. These control experiments showed that the effect was not merely driven by word-word association but instead required integration over multiple words in the correct order. These findings support the possibility of unconscious high-level, complex information integration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • consciousness
  • continuous flash suppression
  • semantics
  • syntax
  • unconscious processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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