In conflict tasks such as the Stroop, the Eriksen flanker or the Simon task, it is generally observed that the detection of conflict in the current trial reduces the impact of conflicting information in the subsequent trial; a phenomenon termed conflict adaptation. This higher-order cognitive control function has been assumed to be restricted to cases where conflict is experienced consciously. In the present experiment we manipulated the awareness of conflict-inducing stimuli in a metacontrast masking paradigm to directly test this assumption. Conflicting response tendencies were elicited either consciously (through primes that were weakly masked) or unconsciously (strongly masked primes). We demonstrate trialby-trial conflict adaptation effects after conscious as well as unconscious conflict, which could not be explained by direct stimulus/response repetitions. These findings show that unconscious information can have a longer-lasting influence on our behavior than previously thought and further stretch the functional boundaries of unconscious cognition. © 2010 van Gaal et al.
van Gaal, S., Lamme, V. A. F., & Ridderinkhof, K. R. (2010). Unconsciously triggered conflict adaptation. PLoS ONE, 5(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0011508