In the experiment, participants could freely decide if they wanted to press a button with their right or left hand. The only requirement was that they had to mentally decide each time whether to use their right hand or left hand before pressing the button.
The researchers used fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans to scan the brains of the participants while they were undertaking the experiment. The experiment was to find out if the scientists could reliably predict what outcome would occur from the button pressing before the participants actually pressed the button.
Remarkably, by monitoring the micro patterns of activity in the frontopolar cortex of the brain, the researchers were able to predict which button would be pressed up to seven seconds before the participant was aware of the decision that they would take. Do watch the video below: it’s fascinating.
“…there is a lot of unconscious brain activity going on that is shaping your decisions and that your consciousness comes in at a very late stage…”
“…the conscious mind is encoded in brain activity… The unconscious is in harmony with your beliefs and desires…”.
It’s my thinking that you’re not a ‘hostage’, as Marcus Du Sautoy puts it (with clear shock in his body language to boot) in the video but rather it’s a question of rewiring your unconscious so that it works for you: for your and other people’s greater good and not to the detriment of yourself and others. After all, whatever you focus on gets stronger. Have you asked yourself recently what you’re focusing on – and whether you should be?
Remember, therefore, your conscious mind is reshaping your decisions that you finally respond with. How your conscious finally responds will be determined by your unconscious state of mind. It’s the unconscious mind that Powerchange rewires, as we change what an event means to you at an unconscious level. When we change its meaning at an unconscious level, we change the conscious response that will follow – up to seven seconds later.
Seven seconds is a very long time for the unconscious mind and a lot of unhelpful self-talk can occur in seven seconds. Mind you, a lot of helpful self-talk can occur as well. Be aware of both these points and feed in helpful cognitive questions such as: “What would it be like if…?” and “How do I imagine…?” Such questioning empowers the conscious mind and relays thoughts and emotions back to the unconscious mind. That way, the conscious response is likely to be the desired one.
Next time you make a conscious decision to do something – whatever that is – your unconscious mind decided it seven seconds ago! The research didn’t analyse this; however, I suspect that the ANS (autonomic nervous system) was already responding unconsciously to the decision that would eventually be cognitively made. From my study, I would conclude that the answer is yes. Police officers, particularly in countries where gun crime is common, are trained to monitor the suspect’s autonomic behaviours, as this can give the officers vital seconds before the suspect consciously responds. Since the ANS responses are decided in the brain before the external response at an unconscious level let alone conscious level one can see how important such training is for the officers.
Some might argue, like Marcus in the video, that we are hostage to our unconscious. I personally believe we have been given an unconscious that can work for us when it is fed what is beneficial both for society and for ourselves. I repeat what I said earlier: Whatever you focus on gets stronger. Focus on wholesome, beneficial thoughts, words and actions and much will be yielded for good when I finally consciously act on it. Focus on evil, damaging and generally unhelpful thoughts, words and actions and we only have ourselves to blame when we act – seven seconds later.
Do let me know your thoughts below and let others know about this post too.