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Conscious Cogn. 2014 May;26:97-104. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Mar 28.

Affective and cognitive reactions to subliminal flicker from fluorescent lighting.

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University of Gävle, Department of Social Work and Psychology, SE-801 76 Gävle, Sweden. Electronic address:


This study renews the classical concept of subliminal perception (Peirce & Jastrow, 1884) by investigating the impact of subliminal flicker from fluorescent lighting on affect and cognitive performance. It was predicted that low compared to high frequency lighting (latter compared to former emits non-flickering light) would evoke larger changes in affective states and also impair cognitive performance. Subjects reported high rather than low frequency lighting to be more pleasant, which, in turn, enhanced their problem solving performance. This suggests that sensory processing can take place outside of conscious awareness resulting in conscious emotional consequences; indicating a role of affect in subliminal/implicit perception, and that positive affect may facilitate cognitive task performance.


Affect; Flicker; Fluorescent lighting; Implicit perception; Problem solving; Subliminal perception

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