Sustained invisibility through crowding and continuous flash suppression: a comparative review
The study of non-conscious vision benefits from several alternative methods that allow the suppression of an image from awareness. Here, we present and compare two of them that are particularly well-suited for creating sustained periods of invisibility, namely visual crowding and continuous flash suppression (CFS). In visual crowding, a peripheral image surrounded by similar flankers becomes impossible to discriminate. In CFS, an image presented to one eye becomes impossible to detect when rapidly changing patterns are presented to the other eye. After discussing the experimental specificities of each method, we give a comparative overview of the main empirical results derived from them, from the mere analysis of low-level features to the extraction of semantic contents. We conclude by proposing practical guidelines and future directions to obtain more quantitative and systematic measures of non-conscious processes under prolonged stimulation.