Sunday, June 10, 2007

This is Your Brain on Filters

I watched a video by Paul Scheele recently in which he quoted the following findings from some research done in 1985-86. (Unfortunately, he didn't cite the study in his presentation. *sigh*).


The rate (in BPS, or Bits Per Second) at which our sensory organs receive input:

Eyes - 10,000,000
Ears - 100,000
Skin - 1,000,000
Taste - 1,000
Smell - 100,000

Wow! Pretty amazing!

Now, let's look at how much of that information (also in BPS) reaches the conscious mind:

Eyes - 40
Ears - 30
Skin - 5
Taste - 1
Smell - 1

No, that is not a typo.

Think about this for a moment! Most of the information that's coming in bypasses the conscious mind and goes straight into the nonconscious mind! We're only consciously aware of a fraction of the information we receive about the external world! That doesn't mean we are totally unaware of that information. We simply don't consciously notice it.

This is one reason I love Nonviolent Communication and hypnosis. During the "input" phase of communication, NVC "observations" help me focus my attention on sensory input. What am I seeing and hearing? Who is present? What is happening, in what order? Bringing my focus to these things helps me slow down and notice whether my reactions to the situation are coming from what I'm actually noticing or from a habit, memory, or old interpretation of an earlier, similar event.

Hypnosis, on the other hand, goes directly to the nonconscious mind. When I allow myself to go into trance, I can invite the nonconscious mind to share the perceptions it received but withheld from the conscious mind, not wanting to bother it with a lot of irrelevant details.

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