The Semantic Integration Between Two Subliminally Perceived Words Simultaneously Presented at Different Locations

  • Shen TuEmail author
  • Chengzhen Liu
  • SiShi Zhu
  • Jerwen Jou
  • Yajuan Zhou
  • Simin Wan
Original Research


In the present study, we showed evidence of an integration between two unconscious semantic representations. In experiment 1, two masked Chinese words of the same or different categories (“orange apple” or “grape hammer”) were simultaneously presented in the prime, followed by two Chinese words also of same or different categories in the target. We examined possible prime/target visual feature priming, semantic category priming and motor response priming effects. Moreover, two ISI intervals (53, 163 ms) between the prime and the target words were used to examine the positive and negative priming. The results revealed a negative motor response priming and a positive semantic category priming effect independent of the ISI when the target words were of the same category. Experiment 2 eliminated an alternative interpretation of the effect based on different number of category words changed across the prime and the target. Experiment 3 eliminated a potential confound of unequal numbers of trials for motor congruent and incongruent conditions in Experiment 1. Overall, these results indicated an integration between the meanings of the two subliminally perceived words in the prime. The difference between simultaneous and sequential presentations, and the reason why positive priming was not observed when the interval between the prime and the target was short were discussed in the context of unconscious semantic integration.


Masking Semantic category Motor response priming effect Negative priming Integration between unconscious processes 



This work was supported by a funding for the Start-up Project of Scientific Research on Introducing Talents to Guizhou University of Finance and Economics in 2018 [Grant Number 2019YT020] and the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant Number 31500871]. Thank Guang Zhao, Yidan Ma and Jiang Qiu for their valuable reviews and feedbacks on the draft.

Supplementary material

10936_2019_9648_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (151 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 152 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, School of Public AdministrationGuizhou University of Finance and EconomicsGuiyangChina
  2. 2.The Center of College Students’Psychological DevelopmentSouthwest Medical UniversityLuzhouChina
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, Institute of EducationChina West Normal UniversityNanchongChina
  4. 4.Department of Psychological ScienceUniversity of Texas – Rio Grande ValleyEdinburgUSA

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