PRIMING OF POP-OUT AND CONSCIOUS PERCEPTION
Research has demonstrated a striking role for recent experience in visual search. For instance, search for a singleton target is substantially speeded when either its defining feature or its location repeats on successive trials (Priming of Pop-out and Priming of Location, Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1994; 1996, respectively). Here, we investigated the role of conscious perception in inter-trial priming. Subjects searched for a shape singleton and reported its color. In each trial pair, we used backward pattern masking to induce liminal processing of the first search display while the second search display in the pair was clearly visible. Repetition of the target shape speeded search performance only when the target in the priming trial had been consciously perceived. Yet, search performance was above chance when the participants' failed to subjectively perceive the display, suggesting that some unconscious processing occurred. There was no location priming effect in any of the awareness conditions.