A very interesting study was conducted in recent years by Sheng He, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota, regarding the effects of using subliminal images. It was Sheng’s intention to determine the effectiveness of using sexual subliminal images as a means of focusing the mind and causing it to be more aware of stimuli presented to it.
Sheng He and his research associates investigated the use of subliminal images with Gabor patches during their studies at the University Of Minnesota. Having recruited volunteers from different sexual orientations they gathered them together into groups consisting of 10 members each. Each group was classified as consisting of, heterosexual men, heterosexual women, homosexual men or homosexual women. Each member of these groups where then shown specially prepared images which were pointed directly at their left and right eyes in a separate sequence.
This ind of image was created by a mathematician and carries his name – the Gabor patch – he created it. Gabor created this image in order to test a humans ability to determine spatial frequency and visual space. If all conditions are normal, Sheng explains, then a human being looks at an image with both eyes focused on the same object. Therefore there is no conflict in the brain about the image being viewed. However, by using a Gabor Patch it is possible to create a situation where the two eyes are looking at two completely different images.
Using a Gabor patch it has been determined that when one eye is presented with an image that has high contrast and the other eye is presented with an image that is static a person will only be able to see the dynamic image and will be unaware of the other. The other static image remains totally undetected.
This was important to Sheng only due to the fact that by using a high contrast image, presented to only one eye, he and his researchers could cancel out an image chosen by them that was being seen by the other eye. This meant that Sheng’s volunteers would only be aware of the high contrast image that he showed them and would, supposedly, be unaware of the other image regardless of what image or message he placed there. They would think that both eyes were viewing the same high contrast image!
During the experiment the researchers presented a normal high contrast image to one of the volunteer’s eyes, and an erotic image (which would go unnoticed) to the other eye. The erotic image would go totally undetected because the high contrast image had also been used. Erotic images where created to test their appeal depending on the sexuality of the group to which the volunteers belonged. These images ranged from a naked woman to a naked man. Each image was shown to each of the groups. So each body to body massage of the group members were presented with a picture of a nude woman and in a separate image they say a photo of a naked man.
To make sure the “invisible” images were definitely not detected consciously the volunteers were instructed to press a key on a computer keyboard if they noticed any difference between the images that they were seeing through their left or right eye.
In all, 32 trials were conducted and Sheng’s team found that the heterosexual men displayed a significantly higher propensity for detecting the orientation of Gabor patches but only when they were presented in a slot that was previously occupied by the “invisible” image of a naked woman. The findings clearly identified that the photo of the woman was acting as subliminal stimulation. However, the opposite was the case when heterosexual men were shown a Gabor Patch where the “invisible” image was that of a naked man. In these cases they had a much more difficult time detecting the orientation of the Gabor patch. A strange point to note is that homosexual men and also the heterosexual women displayed much better results when they were shown a photo of a nude woman.
Sheng’s tests show that the results were significantly better when the volunteers were shown the subliminal pictures that appealed to their sexuality. It also shows the power of sexual subliminal conditioning because the effects were not as good when volunteers were shown the pictures without the aid of the high contrast subliminal effect and when they could therefore consciously see the pictures.