Kawakami & Yoshida (2015)

Kawakami, N.(川上直秋), & Yoshida, F.(吉田富二雄) (2015).
Perceiving a story outside of conscious awareness: When we infer narrative attributes from subliminal sequential stimuli. 
Consciousness and cognition, 33, 53-66.
Perceiving a story behind successive movements plays an important role in our lives. From a general perspective, such higher mental activity would seem to depend on conscious processes. Using a subliminal priming paradigm, we demonstrated that such story perception occurs without conscious awareness. In the experiments, participants were subliminally presented with sequential pictures that represented a story in which one geometrical figure was chased by the other figure, and in which one fictitious character defeated the other character in a tug-of-war. Although the participants could not report having seen the pictures, their automatic mental associations (i.e., associations that are activated unintentionally, difficult to control, and not necessarily endorsed at a conscious level) were shifted to line up with the story. The results suggest that story perception operates outside of conscious awareness. Implications for research on the unconscious were also briefly discussed.