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2013-08-28

You'll See It When You Believe It

Did I get that backwards?! Nope. While many people will know it as "I'll believe when I see it," the title of this post is becoming more and more a reality. This lends some scientific backing to movies like The Secret, What the Bleep Do We Know, and the whole Law of Attraction thing. So while not necessarily related to health and nutrition, understanding the implications of this study has direct relevance to keeping us healthy or over-coming illnesses.

Our brains perceive incoming information from our senses, which on their own is just meaningless or ambiguous. Our brains take that information and puts it into context of what we know, have experienced in the past, or what we expect.

To show how profoundly words can influence perception, American researchers used a technique called continuous flash suppression to render a series of objects invisible to a group of volunteers. In one eye, each person was shown a static picture of a familiar object--such as a chair, a pumpkin or a kangaroo. At the same time, their other eye saw a series of flashing, squiggly lines (which served as visual noise), and because of the patterns, high-contrast, and motion, this "noise" dominated, suppressing the image flashed in the other eye.

Immediately before the combination of the flashing lines and suppressed object, the participants heard one of three things: the word for the suppressed object ("chair," when the object was a chair), the word for a different object ("kangaroo," when the object was actually a chair), or just static noise.



Then researchers asked the participants whether they saw something or not. What the researchers found was that what was seen could be altered with a single word. When the word participants heard matched the suppressed object/image, they were more likely to report that they did indeed see it than in cases where the wrong word (or just static) was paired with the image. Essentially, hearing the word, kicked that image into their reality (just like the video clip above taken from What the Bleep Do We Know)!

These results also lends itself to the power of hypnosis and the power of suggestion. The study demonstrates a deeper connection between language and simple sensory perception than previously thought, and demonstrates the power of language and spoken words. Theoretically, the influence of language may extend to other senses as well (tactile, smell, hearing, etc.).

Studies like this help show that language acts as a top-down signal to perceptual processes. In the case of vision, what we consciously perceive seems to be deeply shaped by our knowledge and expectations. It also indicates that language is influencing vision at a pretty early stage. It's getting really deep into the visual system.

So more reason to always remain positive, look on the bright side, and avoid watching/reading the news (which is mostly negative). What you say and hear really does have a profound effect on shaping your perceived reality.

Now, before you go, repeat after me: "I am clicking HERE and subscribing to Know Guff, and telling all my friends to subscribe...it is the best health research blog ever. Ever!"

Source: Language can boost otherwise unseen objects into visual awareness

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