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Influence of continuous flash suppression mask frequency on stimulus visibility

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The continuous flash suppression (CFS) paradigm is increasingly used in consciousness research, but its mechanisms are still not fully understood. To better understand its temporal properties, we presented the CFS masks at 9 frequencies, and examined their influence on stimuli visibility, while taking into account the inter-individual variability and the change of CFS suppression as the experiment progressed. The frequencies consisted of fundamental frequencies of 3, 4 and 5Hz, and their 2nd and 3rd harmonics, which included the 10Hz frequency typically used in most of the CFS studies. We found that the suppression of stimulus awareness was stronger under 4, 6 and 8Hz than 10Hz. After controlling for inter-individual variability with mixed-effects analysis, we found that the number of seen trials was lower for the 4 Hz-basis frequencies than the 5Hz ones, and was lower for the 2nd than 3rd harmonic. We propose that this may be caused by an interaction between the CFS masks and the ongoing sampling of the attentional mechanism. Examining individual data, we also found a habituation effect that the participants saw significantly more stimuli as the experiment progressed. Our results suggest that these factors need to be taken care of in future CFS studies in order to achieve optimal visual awareness suppression and ensure the generalizability of results.

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  • Journal Article
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-72
Early online date12 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2019