The influence of subliminal messaging on human behavior is a debated topic in both popular and scientific psychology. The advocates of "subliminal persuasion" argue that our brains perceive images on a level below our conscious perceptional threshold; these images in turn influence our behavior in ways we are unaware. For instance, if I get the sudden urge to drink a Coke after seeing a Coke advertisement, this may be because I subconsciously noticed the figure of a female on the Coke bottle. Consequently, my subconscious observation inclined me to want to have a Coke--this contradicts my conscious reason for buying the Coke, that I'm thirsty and Coke tastes good. The implications of subliminal persuasion are difficult to understand. Certainly the world would become more complex; if our decisions result from a combination of influences of which we are unaware, then the sovereignty of our conscious experience would be undermined. According to the work of Dr. Bahrami from the University College of London, there is evidence showing our brain is at least responding to subliminal stimuli: "We show that there is a brain response in the primary visual cortex to subliminal images that attract our attention -- without us having the impression of having seen anything". I think his findings are encouraging for the wider debate on subconscious experience. Nonetheless, from his research alone, there is no reason to suppose that this brain response in turn subconsciously influences behavior, and several questions are still unanswered. If we perceive objects at a level below conscious experience, are we also subconsciously interpreting meaning in these objects? These interpretations would be the source of possible influence. In my opinion, the door is still open that subliminal messages can influence our behavior. In the same way that our brain "fills-in" parts of visual experience in order to make practical sense of the world, the brain may have to reduce our consciousness to a small set of known influences in order that we can build a necessary identity of ourselves.
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