It would seem the surprise and perhaps denial people would have at such findings is because of the implicit assumption that the information you process from the environment as an organism is "all and instantly available for conscious use" or some such. The truth is that evolution doesn't care at all if we're aware of everything we process. We want this to be true because of vague egoisms like "free will" and such that permeate the public consciousness. The universe - which is to say physical, biological reality - cares not for our egotistical desires however.

So, I think it's accepted as neuroscientific fact that our minds essentially think by simulation of experience. And this makes complete sense. Why have completely different biological systems for thinking other than the ones (i.e. your senses) that have taken in the information to begin with?

So what is happening with subliminal influence, I'm guessing, is that your mental simulations are being influenced (depending on several factors as has been discussed) by input that nature has decided not to bother our consciousness with. In fact - it might not be possible as far as "biological computers" go. That is - in some vague sense - there isn't enough "energy" in the environmental input to drive a "consciousness calculation". There must be an absolute, physical reason we simply can't consciously calculate inputs below certain stimulus thresholds.

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