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Research Shows Our Subconscious Mind Makes Our Decisions For Us

By January 16, 2014Blog

What Data Are You Feeding Your Subconscious Mind?

Neuroscience research by Soon et al. (2008) demonstrated that the brain is subconsciously aware of our decisions before we have consciously made those very decisions.  In other words, we’ve already come up with a decision or an answer, before we realise we have.

Participants in the study were asked to make a decision about whether they would use their left hand or their right hand to press a lever.  By using fMRI scans of the brain’s activity, the researchers knew the participant’s decision by analysing the activity in the frontopolar cortex of the brain.  This information about the participant’s decision was available up to seven seconds before the participant had “made” a conscious decision.  The researchers used the information from the scans, to predict with success, the 36 participant’s decisions before they had consciously made them!

Does this mean that we don’t have control over our own mind and that it makes decisions without us or does it mean that we simply know things sooner than we consciously realise we do?  The answer to this would have to be the latter, that we know things before we realise we do and allow me to explain why I say that.

These findings actually complement research done into how our gut intuition works.  For example, Voss and Paller (2009) found evidence that suggests the brain accesses intuition (our gut feeling about something) by tapping into memories/information embedded within our brains at a more subconscious level, rather than at a conscious level.  Studies such as those mentioned here, highlight that there are a myriad of processes that take place within our brain and body and although the subconscious mind and conscious mind co-exist, the subconscious mind seems to do more of the work and is aware of information faster than the conscious mind is.

As reflected in the research by Voss & Paller, the brain accesses stored information, information we have accumulated during our lifetime, and uses it to make very quick decisions.  So quick, in fact, that we can get an instinctive feeling about which decision feels right and which feels wrong, long before we can consciously give tangible reasons as to why a decision feels right or wrong!  Sometimes you know the answer but can’t tell people why you know the answer; in that moment you just know that you know it!

What implications does this have for your life; your health, relationships and success?

This research points us right back to what I frequently advocate, that we need to take conscious control over what we’re feeding our subconscious mind because that is the information that our brain uses to make decisions, before we even realise we’ve made those decisions!

So here are three questions you absolutely need to ponder:

  1. How might the information you have stored during your lifetime be holding you back from having the life that you want right now?
  2. When you consider your daily and weekly routines (regular repeat occurrences), what information is being repeatedly embedded within your decision-making subconscious mind?
  3. If our subconscious mind is processing way more information than we’re even consciously aware of having stored, how do we ensure the information we are storing is conducive to us achieving happiness and success, rather than sabotaging it?

To help you answer these three questions, watch this short video about embedding information in our subconscious mind to influence what the subconscious and conscious brain processes and acts upon.



Soon, C. S., Brass, M., Heinze, H. J. & Haynes, J. D. (2008).  Unconscious Determinants Of Free Decisions In The Human Brain.  Nature Neuroscience 11 (5), 543–5.

Voss, J. L., & Paller, K. A. (2009). An electrophysiological signature of unconscious recognition memory. Nature Neuroscience, 12, 349-355.