Can perceptual grouping unfold in the absence of awareness? Comparing grouping during continuous flash suppression and sandwich masking

Ruth Kimchi, Dina Devyatko, Shahar Sabary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study we examined whether grouping by luminance similarity and grouping by connectedness can occur in the absence of visual awareness, using a priming paradigm and two methods to render the prime invisible, CFS and sandwich masking under matched conditions. For both groupings, significant response priming effects were observed when the prime was reported invisible under sandwich masking, but none were obtained under CFS. These results provide evidence for unconscious grouping, converging with previous findings showing that visual awareness is not essential for certain perceptual organization processes to occur. They are also consistent with findings indicating that processing during CFS is limited, and suggest the involvement of higher visual areas in perceptual organization. Moreover, these results demonstrate that whether a process can occur without awareness is dependent on the level at which the suppression induced by the method used for rendering the stimulus inaccessible to awareness takes place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-51
Number of pages15
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) (grant number 1473/15 ) to Ruth Kimchi. Facilities for conducting the research were provided by the Institute of Information Processing and Decision Making and by the Max Wertheimer Minerva Center for Cognitive Processes and Human Performance, University of Haifa. We report all data exclusions, manipulations, and measures, and how we determined our sample sizes. We are grateful to Guido Hesselmann and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on a previous version of this article. Thanks to Mor Leder for her help in running the experiments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • Continuous flash suppression
  • Perceptual grouping
  • Response priming
  • Unconscious grouping
  • Visual awareness
  • Visual masking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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