The Subliminal Brain: Understanding and Utilizing the Science of Subliminal Influence
Causing Change with Subliminals
I was like every other college student. I wanted to use the sleep
learning audiotapes to learn while I slept. I wanted to use the super
dooper speed reading (25 times faster than the Evelyn Wood course!)
so I could pound through those annoying textbooks that were as boring
as they were heavy. I wanted to use the subliminal cassettes so I
could have more confidence, and do everything faster and better, with little effort on my part.
Unfortunately, none of them worked.
We all burned the midnight oil in the dorms with our Calculus texts
and problem for the night with only our brains. No other gateways
were opened. It wasn't long before I became disenchanted.
Lack of money caused an investment in a 7-tape audio program in 1983
on how to bring instant prosperity. Subliminal. Recorded by professional
sound engineers. I spent the $100. Nothing. On a few other occasions
desperation led to unwise investment and my desire to improve was
never helped. Same as everyone else's story. I was doing as well as I
could in the circumstances and the very nice sounding musical
selections were doing little more than relaxing me.
Having spent thousands of dollars and had zip to show for it in
return, I confess I was bitter on the entire concept of subliminals.
I did some research. Scoured the textbooks and journal articles.
Everyone else except the person selling the subliminals found the
same thing I spent tons of money on. They don't work.
Then about eight years ago, I found myself writing a diatribe about
subliminals and their impotence. I got the typical letters and emails
from those who sold them demanding withdrawal of my comments. That
wasn't possible... And...I got one email that detailed numerous
studies that had just taken place in the prior year about the value
of VIDEO subliminals and visual priming to cause attitude and belief
My initial reaction was skepticism (I anticipate you know that is my
nature...) but appreciative for the intelligent and even-minded tone
with which the email was sent. I went to the original articles. There
was indeed something working and working very well in some subliminal
videos and various computer experiments where subliminal messages
were being used to change the attitude or behavior of the user. This was clear. It
was fascinating stuff. I was captivated.
For the next six years (to date), I have followed subliminal
research closely and experimented with many of the facets of
subliminal perception and what works...and what doesn't in the
There was always the nagging thought, "If audio doesn't work...why
would the video?"
If, as one study showed, you could help elderly people enhance their
memory and activity level after visual subliminal exposure...why not
on an auditory level.
The reason it turns out was very simple.
The Differences Between Audio & Visual Processing
Our auditory system has a very different make up than our visual
system. It turns out that the failure of audio subliminals is not in
the diligent creation of the tapes using the latest recording
equipment....it is in the antiquated auditory system. The brain is
simply not primed by subliminal audio perception.
The analogy of being at a rock concert in front of the speakers
blaring full blast while two people talk at the top of their lungs 20
rows back and can't even hear each other...and their very loud
conversation is confusing and unheard even by each other. It has zero
impact on you at the front. The sound of the two people is masked
(You learn about this in tinnitus reduction and auditory habituation
research) and is not perceived in any fashion.
On the other hand, our visual system meets capacity with
approximately 10,000,000 bits of information per second. What you see
in one hour, unfiltered, would fill the hard drive of 98% of
Meanwhile our brain can process about 45 bits of information per
second. (A few words at most) When reading, it processes about 30
bits per second. (A little more if reading silently.) When doing
mental computations we can process about 12 bits of information per
In 10 minutes, your unconscious mind filters and processes 6.6
billion bits of information. Most of it is instantly deleted. A tiny
fraction (but still a lot of bits!) is coded into implicit (not
explicit) memory. That information can prime behavior, though unless
targeted...won't. Of that tiny fraction, you aren't going to
"remember" it for recall, but it will be there for potential
recognition. You'll recognize the face but you won't remember the
detailed content of the book that you try to hyper speed-read. You
will unconsciously recognize those things that trigger crucial needs
for survival. (Eating, sex, acquisition, etc.)
And, when done correctly, stimuli that are presented subliminally
(under the radar of conscious awareness) your behavior...and
mine...can be primed without our knowledge.
This happens in lots of ways.
How does it work?...
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