The Unconscious Self
Via Ex-Gay Watch… University of Minnesota researchers used a technology to embed images on computer screens that were, in a sense, hidden or more properly, camouflaged, to see how their subjects subconsciously responded to them. What makes this study particularly interesting is that some of the "hidden" images were of naked human bodies…male and female…and their subjects not only included heterosexual men and women, but homosexual men and women too…
Nothing focuses the mind’s eye like an erotic picture, according to the results of a new study. Even when such pictures were actively canceled out, subliminal images of female nudes helped heterosexual men find the orientation of a briefly shown abstract shape. Such nudity-driven focusing worked almost as well for women, as long as the image accorded with their sexual preference.
Cognitive neuroscientist Sheng He of the University of Minnesota and his colleagues gathered groups of heterosexual men, heterosexual women, homosexual men and bisexual women numbering 10 each. Each viewed special images pointed directly at each individual eye. The researchers could cancel out vision of one eye’s image by presenting a specific high contrast image to the other eye. Such an image, called a Gabor patch, consists of a series of contrasting lines that form an abstract–and visually arresting–shape. "Normally, the two eyes look at the same image. They don’t have any conflict," he explains. "We create a situation where the two eyes are presented with two images, and then they will have binocular competition. One image is high contrast [and dynamic], the other is static. You basically just see the dynamic image."
Into the canceled out image slot, the researchers slipped an erotic image; for example, a naked woman displayed for a heterosexual man. To ensure that subjects did not consciously detect the invisible image, they were asked to press a specific key if they noticed any difference between the left and right images. Over the course of 32 trials, men were significantly better at detecting the orientation of Gabor patches when they appeared in the slot formerly occupied by an invisible image of a nude woman.
The heterosexual men, however, had a more difficult time detecting the same orientation when it was located where an invisible picture of a nude man had been; this was not the case for heterosexual women when viewing their own sex naked. And the homosexual men’s response was similar to that of the heterosexual women, as were the bisexual women’s and heterosexual men’s.
(Emphasis mine). Mind you, they couldn’t see the images enough to process them consciously. But at a level below consciousness something was clearly clicking in the subjects. And it clicked differently for the gay subjects.
Now isn’t that interesting. The research wasn’t into sexual orientation, but to uncover the subconscious mechanisms the brain uses to processes visual information. More here from Science Daily…
When subjects become conscious of images, the sequence of steps in brain processing becomes very complicated because neurons engage in all sorts of feedback and crosstalk–especially with emotionally charged information. The researchers were studying the flow of visual information at an earlier stage, while it is still traveling along a one-way path.
"We’re trying to reveal what happens when one doesn’t have a conscious visual perception. That is, how the brain processes visual information independent of consciousness," said He.
The researchers chose to generate brain activity by using erotic pictures because they promised to elicit strong responses and clear patterns in the data. But the researchers believe the mechanisms by which the brain processes such images are universal.
"This definitely doesn’t just work for erotic pictures," said He. "But erotic images stand out in terms of potency to generate a response."
Which makes sense considering how ancient and powerful the sex drive is. And this also makes sense…
The strongest shift in attention toward the area where the image had been was in heterosexual men who had been shown nude female images. Those subjects also tended to be repelled by nude male images. Among heterosexual women, nude male images induced a less strong attention shift toward the image site but no significant shift in response to nude female pictures. Gay men behaved similarly to heterosexual women, and gay/bisexual women performed in between heterosexual men and women.
The divergent results among the groups of study subjects provide evidence that the subjects’ brains were processing the visual information in a selective manner.
It also pretty well shows, once more, that sexual orientation isn’t a matter of conscious choice, or even self identification, as some in the kook pews keep insisting. Gay or Straight, you are drawn to the attractive sex in ways your conscious mind plays only a supporting roll in. In computergeek speak…it’s down in the kernel. We are drawn to the sex we are hard wired to mate with, and for some of us, that is the same sex as we ourselves are. It isn’t Godlessness. It isn’t rebellion. It isn’t sexual immorality. It is simply the way some of us are. We mate to our own sex, because that is how we are made…
Now…I wonder how all those folks at Exodus and Love In Action…who claim to have been cured of their homosexuality, would fare on this test, were it given to them. I propose an experiment along those lines, but with a mixture of images of nude bodies and random other objects that might also provoke a strong emotional response…so they couldn’t game their responses.
Run the experiment with three groups of men…straight, gay and ex-gay men who are absolutely convinced, or at least say they are, that not only their behavior but their sexual interests have changed. The person administering the test cannot know if they are testing a straight man, a gay man, or an ex-gay man. The person evaluating the results doesn’t know who administered the test. We can start with all those ex-gays that Spitzer claims have changed.