On the use of continuous flash suppression for the study of visual processing outside of awareness

Front Psychol. 2014 Jul 11:5:724. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00724. eCollection 2014.


The interocular suppression technique termed continuous flash suppression (CFS) has become an immensely popular tool for investigating visual processing outside of awareness. The emerging picture from studies using CFS is that extensive processing of a visual stimulus, including its semantic and affective content, occurs despite suppression from awareness of that stimulus by CFS. However, the current implementation of CFS in many studies examining processing outside of awareness has several drawbacks that may be improved upon for future studies using CFS. In this paper, we address some of those shortcomings, particularly ones that affect the assessment of unawareness during CFS, and ones to do with the use of "visible" conditions that are often included as a comparison to a CFS condition. We also discuss potential biases in stimulus processing as a result of spatial attention and feature-selective suppression. We suggest practical guidelines that minimize the effects of those limitations in using CFS to study visual processing outside of awareness.

Keywords: binocular rivalry; continuous flash suppression; interocular suppression; unconscious processing; visual processing.

Publication types

  • Review