A new study has revealed that subtle messages and subconscious images, which are invisible to the naked eye (or rather, those we notice but fail to register), play a major role in our decision-making process.
Researchers led by Joel Voss of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, showed volunteers 12 kaleidoscope images for 2 seconds each.
In the mean time, the participants were also made to perform an unrelated number task to distract them from consciously committing the images to memory.
After one minute, volunteers were asked to look at pairs of similar-looking images and choose the one they had seen before.
They were also asked whether they were sure, had "a feeling" they were right, or were just guessing.
Those who took a shot in the dark were as successful as the rest.
"They were 70 to 80 per cent accurate; it would be only 50 per cent if it was chance," New Scientist magazine quoted Voss as saying.
The researchers monitored the volunteers' brain activity during the memory task via electrical sensors attached to their heads.
It was found that the pattern of activity differed between "guessers" and the other groups, which indicated that we access unconscious and conscious visual memories differently, said Voss.