Unconscious influence over executive control: absence of conflict detection and adaptation

Fábio Silva, Joana Dias, Samuel Silva, Pedro Bem-Haja, Carlos F. Silva, Sandra C. Soares*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Executive control and its modulation of attentional mechanisms allow us to detect and adapt to conflicting information. According to recent studies, executive control functions may be modulated by unconsciously perceived information, although the available evidence is not consistent. In this study, we used a Flanker Task and employed Chromatic Flicker Fusion, a suppression technique that has been proposed as more adequate to elicit executive control functions, to assess conflict and conflict adaptation effects. Our results showed that, when suppressed, flankers did not evoke conflict related effects on performance. However, in trials where most flankers were incongruent, longer response times in congruent trials were observed, consistent with orienting responses. Our results help to support earlier theories regarding the inherent limitations of unconsciously perceived information, though future studies should further investigate why and under which conditions is the executive control system modulated by unconscious information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-122
Number of pages13
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Attention
  • Chromatic flicker fusion
  • Conflict
  • Conflict adaptation
  • Executive control
  • Flanker task


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