There is much said and much claimed with respect to subliminal suggestions. No matter how I look at it, no matter how it’s described, I fail to see how something which cannot be perceived can be effective.

Herein lies the catch. What can or cannot be perceived? An area for discussion is the distinction between perception as a matter of consciousness versus perception at sub-conscious levels.

If the latter is the accepted understanding, then subliminal stimulus and suggestion becomes entirely viable. There is no difficulty in “hiding” content such that it is indistinguishable from surrounding sounds.

My own experimentation leads me to believe that subliminal techniques can be used to prime responsiveness to verbal content, but that the content does have to be delivered intelligibly at some point. I have had success with a number of techniques that place the mind in a state of alert, awaiting instruction, before delivering the clear message.

When it comes to plain stimulus, there are innumerable possibilities. If you take a 10kHz sine wave and clip 10% off the top of every thousandth cycle, you will have a sound confusingly similar to the original tone that will induce a very nice 10Hz response over the temporal lobe. If you take a 100mS noise fragment and repeat it, you will also have a signal that will induce a 10Hz response, while sounding almost the same as unmodified noise. Any perceptible stimulus in either of these examples can be thoroughly masked with a background track or unmodified noise.

Another variant on subliminals relies on the brain’s excellent ability to “fill in the gaps”. An excellent 10Hz response can be achieved from a 10Hz isochronic beat with as many as 7 out of every 10 cycles completely missing. Attention to verbal content, and subsequent retention, can be increased by repeating the message with different syllables missing each time.

By definition, subliminal means “below threshold”. What is not made clear is whether this is to be taken to mean below the threshold of the senses, or below the threshold of awareness. If the former, then I have nothing to support the concept, if the latter, then there is a fertile field for experimentation.


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