The Science Of Subliminal Messages

Published: 24th September 2008
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It is confirmed that the brain registers subliminal messages by a study conducted at the University College London. Researchers found that hidden images were registered by the brain even when subjects were not aware they were there!

Scientists at the University College London have shown that subliminal messages which are hidden can have an affect on the brain and its attention while a person is totally unaware that there are visual images present!

Researchers, lead by Bahador Bahrami, discovered that a subject's brain was able to register images that were faint or those flashed at speed if they were in their visual line of sight, even when the subject was adamant that they had not seen anything i.e. subliminal messages.

Although current psychological assumptions work on the belief that what we pay attention to and what we are aware of are the same, this study shows otherwise. Bahrami and his team have shown that we do not need to be aware of subliminal messages for them to have an affect on the brain. Even though we can be totally unaware of any images being shown to us in the form of subliminal messages, the brain is aware and registers them!

These findings can support the idea that subliminal messages in advertising do grab our attention!

This could account for being aware of billboards on the roadside or flashing computer graphic ads on websites not to mention the use of visual subliminal messages in magazine advertisements! It could also account for the phenomenon of being in a crowed room with a lot of conversations going on and suddenly being aware of someone mentioning your name across the room!

The University's studies revolved around experiments that used volunteers who wore special eye-glasses. These glasses had one lens coloured red and the other lens blue.

One eye of the glasses projected blue flashing light while the other eye showed faint or fast flashing images.

As these two sets of images were given to the eyes of the volunteers they were required to perform simple mental tasks that varied in difficulty. Meanwhile the participant's brain was being monitored and the activity in the visual cortex was studied.

In the same way subliminal messages work the subjects in the scientific experiment registered the images but were not aware of having seen anything! This effect was greater when the participants had to use less concentration with easier tasks.

This supports the experimenter's view that some attention is needed for subliminal messages to be registered. If a person is fully occupied in another activity then the subliminal messages may not get through to the brain.

However, when we look at subliminal advertising we see that it does not require a great deal of concentration and our attention is usually on the advertisement which would mean the subliminal messages would easily get through!

This would be the same if we had flashing subliminal messages on our computer or television screen!

When James Vicary conducted the first experiments with subliminal messages back in 1958 he caused great controversy which has lasted to this day. Many experts disagree about the effectiveness of subliminal messsages with their main argument being that these messages could not even be percievedby the brain. This latest study proves that they are!

Although scientists at the University College London do not state that these subliminal messages are effective at influencing us they do admit that they are registered by the brain even though we are unaware of them.

I believe we are on the verge of having scientific proof about just how eefective subliminal messages are at influencing our behaviours. If they were not effective why would they be used in multi-million dollar advertising campaigns and why would the Bush campaign have flashed the words "bureaucrats" and "rats" over a pictorial representation of Al Gore's election proposals?


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