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Subliminal Messages Might Actually Work 172

GrumpySimon writes "New research indicates that subliminal messages may actually work. In a paper titled Attentional Load Modulates Responses of Human Primary Visual Cortex to Invisible Stimuli, Bahrani et al. demonstrate that even though stimuli may not be available to consciousness, they are processed by the visual cortex. While I'm sure that marketing agencies all over the world are rubbing their hands in glee at this news, the authors report that there's no evidence that this can make people buy things against their will. So with any luck the use of subliminal messages in advertising will remain an urban legend."
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Subliminal Messages Might Actually Work

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  • My summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by venicebeach ( 702856 ) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @11:02PM (#18304756) Homepage Journal
    Well I just read the article and it appears that the main point of this paper is that attention affects the processing of unconscious, invisible visual stimuli.

    What they did was to have a task in central vision that was either easy (not requiring much attention) or hard (requiring lots of attention). At the same time, invisible pictures were flashed in the periphery (made invisible by masking). Looking at the voxels in visual cortex which correspond to the locations of the invisible, peripheral stimuli, they found greater activity in easy mode than in hard mode. In other words, when the central visual task required lots of attention, the invisible stimuli in the periphery activated visual cortex more weakly.

    To quote the article "The present findings are the first to show that neural processes involved in the retinotopic registration of stimulus presence in V1 depend on availability of attentional capacity, even when they do not invoke any conscious experience. These findings challenge previous suggestions that attention and awareness are one and the same."
  • Re:Photoreading (Score:3, Informative)

    by Brickwall ( 985910 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:01AM (#18305110)
    From rough memory, I think that at each point our eyes stop while reading we only see a few words with any accuracy, and our eyes stop almost constantly as we read, even including jumping back over single words two or three times.

    Well, only if you've been poorly trained. If you've ever looked at increasing your reading speed, the techniques most recommended are training your eyes to take in larger chunks (i.e. wider) of text at each time, and to move down the page constantly. I took an Evelyn Wood course at 8 or 9 years old, and increased my reading speed to over 400 words per minute (the average adult reads about 100-150 wpm), while still maintaining high comprehension scores. Now that's when I'm trying to absorb information which I basically understand, like history, fiction, or literature. If I'm reading a text on SQL programming, I have to slow down to make sure I understand how the code works.

  • Re:Television (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jartan ( 219704 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @01:15AM (#18305548)

    I can garauntee that they don't work well in television. At least, not on me. Because, even if they're only 1 frame, I can see them at 24fps.

    TV is not 24 fps. It's 60 fps interlaced. Slashdot needs a -1 "my eyeballs/ears are amazing" tag I think.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"