A Tease Brainer?

I guess “A Brain Teaser” as the subject would have registered with you a little easier, but please read on….

A long time ago (mid 1970’s) while I was doing my volunteering at Toronto East General Hospital, my (then) wife decided to go on a training course to prepare her for volunteering with Distress Line. During that course, she met a lady we will call Sue – because that was her real name 🙂

Sue was over here from England on a “Live-in Nanny” arrangement, but it was causing difficulties because although regular scheduled hours, predictable free time, and use of a vehicle were included in the deal, the reality was rather different. There were repetitive “last minute” work demands, and when she did have some free time, there was no vehicle available. Being a live-in position, this created a difficult situation for her because she could not risk being asked to leave due to a lack of alternatives. We offered her an alternative if she wanted to confront her employer, and she subsequently lost her job and moved in with us!

Sue and I had many late night chats about the oddest of things, and one I remember so well was her dilemma as to whether she was in control of her brain, or was it controlling her! Sue’s perspective was interesting. Her “position” was that up until relatively recent medical advances, it was considered taboo to explore a brain physically. Trying to find out how it works was severely limited by not only ability, but social stigmas.

While she was initially thinking that man was being limited by superstition and religious beliefs of the time, the thought came to her that if man is controlled by his brain, and as long as the brain wishes to maintain that state, then it would be in the brain’s interest to support superstition and religious beliefs. i.e. man is being fed appropriate information by the brain!

The other evening, there was a documentary on TV covering much the same questioning. Sadly, although I found it fascinating, I fell asleep during the program. Was that my brain saying “You don’t need to watch any more of this!”?

What I do remember though was some testing done in which a left OR a right (single) pointing arrow was displayed on a screen very briefly. It was followed by a left AND right (double) pointing arrow. When the person watching the screen saw the left AND right pointing arrow, they had to press either the left arrow key, or the right arrow key on the keyboard. If I recall correctly, they tended to press the key of whichever single arrow was seen immediately before the double arrow.

A very fast single arrow, which the person would not have been able to see**, was then added. They positioned the new very fast single arrow immediately before the double arrow, and the results showed that although the person would not have seen the very fast single arrow, their choice of response inferred that they had.

So this poses the question that if we cannot see something happening right in front of us, and yet can respond to it, then our brain is clearly understanding what is going on so is it instructing us accordingly? Perhaps I went to sleep at the beginning of the program and dreamed the while thing?

So is it really a brain teaser…… or a tease brainer? Just thinking!

** Subliminal advertising – The use by advertisers of images and sounds to influence consumers’ responses without their being conscious of it.

Subliminal advertising was controversial because although the viewer could not see it, it worked as an advertising tool very effectively, and I believe it was Coca -Cola that initially used it in the late 1950’s.

9 thoughts on “A Tease Brainer?

  1. That’s interesting! The brain learns very fast and those are the reflexes we have in our reactions (Did I lock the car door? Did I turn off the lights?). We do things automatically. I don’t know if that can be related to that test. But I just thought of it!

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  2. I can well imagine that the use of subliminal commercial advertising would be perceived to be unethical. However, my husband says that all women make use of subliminal manipulation to persuade their husbands to their point of view, making them believe that the “great idea” has been his all along. Brain frying? 😀

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