Suppressed semantic information accelerates analytic problem solving

Darya L. Zabelina, Emmanuel Guzman-Martinez, Laura Ortega, Marcia Grabowecky, Satoru Suzuki, Mark Beeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The present study investigated the limits of semantic processing without awareness, during continuous flash suppression (CFS). We used compound remote associate word problems, in which three seemingly unrelated words (e.g., pine, crab, sauce) form a common compound with a single solution word (e.g., apple). During the first 3 s of each trial, the three problem words or three irrelevant words (control condition) were suppressed from awareness, using CFS. The words then became visible, and participants attempted to solve the word problem. Once the participants solved the problem, they indicated whether they had solved it by insight or analytically. Overall, the compound remote associate word problems were solved significantly faster after the problem words, as compared with irrelevant words, were presented during the suppression period. However this facilitation occurred only when people solved with analysis, not with insight. These results demonstrate that semantic processing, but not necessarily semantic integration, may occur without awareness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-585
Number of pages5
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Awareness
  • Binocular rivalry
  • Continuous flash suppression
  • Problem solving
  • Semantic integration
  • Semantic processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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