NeuroMarketing -- the Positive and Negative...

  • Your Brain has been stimulated by NeuroMarketing without your knowledge for years...
  • Advertisers have turned NeuroMarketing into a TRILLION dollar business to prompt you to purchase their products.  They know far more about your brain than you do!  
  • It is time for you to understand the power of visual (and other stimulation) upon your brain- so that you can protect yourself from overload and create an environment that supports you and your goals...
  • It is important to create "Positive Neuromarketing" in your own living and work spaces...

Joe Camel: NeuroMarketing for children...


My first "AHA Moment" of looking into the world of NeuroMarketing was in 1981-- when while relaxing in bed and reading a magazine-- I flipped it over and "saw" the real Joe Camel for the first time.  RJ Renolds tobacco company always bought the back page in major magazines.   Joe Camel has since been gone for many years-- ostensibly because his cartoon image was attractive to children.  But there was more:  I saw how they sculpted the male anatomy into his face.  How his lip looked like female anatomy.  How the cigarette implanted was symbolic of the sex act.  Children are all attracted to the forbidden.  Joe had it!  He was doing everything forbidden-- and looking cool. His cartoon eyes with large pupils and shine marks were engaging to children.  The upwards gaze is significant of future outcome. His mouth showed a wry-knowing smile.  He was ALL reward-- sex, gambling, prestige, success-- and no effort or work shown to earn it. Much to say about his persona, but I will stop here.  This is NeuroMarketing at its worst: subliminal advertising.  It has bugged me for 39 years!

"If you had 10 Million Dollars to Study the Brain..."

...What would you Study?"


My UCSD neurologist— Dr Erik Viirre— is the director of the Arthur C Clarke Center for Human Imagination, and last month he posed this question at the UCSD Sanford Consortium to his research panelists who were there to talk about their work and how it related to Imagination. 

In July of 2019, UCSD was given 100 million dollars by Billionaire T. Denny Sanford to study compassion and empathy by studying the brain.  

Mr Sanford writes:

“I have been inspired by the work and teachings of the Dalai Lama, whose interest in the intersection where science and faith meet is deep and profound,” said Sanford. “I have had the opportunity to see how grace, humanity and kindness can change people and the world. This gift extends that vision. Doctors work in a world where compassion is essential, but often lost in the harsh realities of modern medicine. If we can help medical professionals preserve and promote their compassion, based on the findings of hard science, the world can be a happier, healthier place.”

From the mission statement of The T Denny Center for Compassion at UCSD:

“UC San Diego is an undisputed hub for neurosciences,” said William Mobley, PhD, associate dean of neuroscience initiatives and a long-time advocate for the empirical study of compassion. “There are few places in the world with the experts and expertise, the resources and ability to tackle the topic.

“People talk about compassion, but only recently have neuroscientists studied how it manifests in the brain. We want to find the irrefutable scientific data that validates the immense power of compassion, identify and understand its biological underpinnings and use that knowledge to inform and enhance teaching new doctors, benefit current ones and, most importantly, improve health care for everyone, patients and providers alike.”

Dr. David Brenner, vice chancellor for health sciences at UCSD writes:

“Denny believes that people can be better than they are and he wants to help them change. You see this through his giving. He believes in compassion, civility, being engaged,” said Brenner. “The Dalai Lama said that we must show that there is a scientific basis to empathy and compassion. That’s what Denny’s gift will help scientists do.” (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Philanthropist T. Denny Sanford's Statement in Full...


Philanthropist Denny Sanford donated $100 million in the summer of 2019 for the new T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion at the University of California San Diego.  

Here is his letter explaining his donation, reprinted from the San Diego Union Tribune: 

Seeking Scientific Basis for Empathic Behavior

By T. DENNY SANFORD  JULY 25, 20195:57 PM

"We live in troubled times, doubled down. Incivility runs rampant; our sense of decency besieged. Our failure to establish a life-work balance leads to unrelenting stress. We are prisoners of technology, available 24/7 via cell phone. Some professions are in crisis, such as physician burnout.

Civility is based upon shared respect, and when civility is lacking so too are fundamental tools required to build respect, such as empathy and compassion. There is no social contract without compassion and no compassion without understanding. We cannot look at others and just see other.

Which is why I have happily and with great hope invested in the new T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion at the University of California San Diego. This is not funding for a building or a project, but for an aspiration, a goal to transform a deep communal malaise and despair into a state of wellness that benefits everyone.

I am inspired by His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, a person of profound grace and kindness, who once said, “Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we seek.”

It begins with hard science. Fundamental to the goals of the new institute will be the task of identifying and mapping brain activity created by empathic behavior, quantifying the factors that promote or inhibit compassionate behavior. This is new science — the neurobiology of compassion — and few places in the world are better equipped or more eager to take up the challenge than UC San Diego, which can combine state-of-the-art imaging technologies with broad expertise in social sciences, engineering, data science and other disciplines, tapping as well the talents and resources of collaborators across the country and around the world.

With indisputable data describing how empathy and compassion work within the brain, it’s possible to take the next step: information to action. Biology is malleable. It can be modified. We see it every day, from programs to lose weight to vaccines and the eradication of disease. Our behaviors are biological, to a degree not fully understood. There is growing, compelling evidence that ephemeral human traits, such as wisdom and conscience, are hard-wired in our brains, which means we can re-wire.

If we understand how compassion functions cognitively, we can figure out how to enhance it — and nowhere is that need greater than in the teaching and care of doctors and other medical professionals. People go into medicine because they are driven by compassion, but the enormous rigors and demands of the job often crush it. Physician burnout approaches 50 percent in surveys; no profession has a higher suicide rate. If we do not improve compassion (and self-compassion) among doctors, we all suffer.

Researchers at the new institute will take what they’ve discovered about how compassion works and apply it to revamping the curriculum at UC San Diego School of Medicine, integrating compassion cultivation training throughout the students’ years of instruction.

They will share this knowledge and approach with others, including the Sanford School of Medicine at University of South Dakota in my home state, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, and with partners and collaborators elsewhere.

The lessons learned will also be used to promote compassion training and wellness among current clinicians, first in health care systems like UC San Diego Health and Sanford Health, but then more broadly.

A science-based institute of empathy and compassion with these goals seems audacious. Without recent advances in medical science and technologies, it would not be possible. It can’t be done most places, but the results can and should be felt everywhere, the work extrapolated and applied universally, in teacher training, for example, and in other types of educational programs where the need for and use of empathy and compassion is no less paramount.

We are born, quite literally, with a sense of fairness. Studies show humans recognize the difference between right and wrong in infancy. We are social animals who seek to live socially. We want to get along, but sometimes we forget how or why.

I hope this new institute helps remind us, but more importantly, shows us the why and how."

Sanford is a South Dakota businessman and philanthropist who also has a home in La Jolla.


San Diego Brain Injury Foundation...

A Valuable Resource!

 I am proud to support the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation though the sales of my artwork:

They have been a valuable resource after a mild brain injury (TBI) since two motor vehicle accidents: in 2001 (T-boned by a 16 year old driver/major damage ) and 2013 (slammed at 35mph while stopped).

With the support of medical staff at UCSD, including my Neurologist Dr Erik Viirre, and Pain Clinic Osteopath Dr Amelia Eastman, I work very hard to keep my neck and jaw pain, vertigo, migraines, tinnitus, hyperacusis and right arm injury on a manageable level. 

So— optimal brain health is very important to me and I have made great strides in supporting my physical and mental brain health. I am a success story— a survivor— and hope to be able to share my knowledge with others though special art projects for others with TBI supported by charities and foundations.

Please contact me to see how you can benefit/help facilitate.

Here is a link to a very interesting page on the SDBIF site about 72 Brain Facts pertinent to NeuroMarketing:   (should get you there!)

* “Technology has forced most of us to be prodigious multitaskers. But your brain can’t learn or concentrate on two things at once. What it can do is quickly toggle back and forth between tasks. But doing so decreases your attention span, ability to learn, short-term memory, and overall mental performance.”

*“There are almost 200 known cognitive biases and distortions that cause us to think and act irrationally.”

*“Of the thousands of thoughts a person has every day, it’s estimated that 70% of this mental chatter is negative — self-critical, pessimistic, and fearful.”

*“Think you’re in control of your life? Don’t be so sure. Ninety-five percent of your decisions take place in your subconscious mind.”

Learning from Nature's Designs: Form follows Function

(This is an progress layout...) Subjects to Cover:

  • Nature is Beautiful by Design:  it's Therapeutic
  • Parasympathetic imagery:
  • Nature's "All OK" images:  garden, still water, peaceable kingdom, calm, quiet, metabolizing
  • Nature's Creation Images: order, structure, growth,  nurturing, mothering, colors of life
  • Sympathetic Overload Imagery:
  • Nature's Warning Signs: bright... striped... sharp... pointed... threatening... stiff... appearing larger
  • Nature's Dissolution/Destruction images:  chaos... disarray, disorder, scattered, evidence of speed, consumption, colors of death or danger.  Over excitation to prompt a (danger) response.
  • Flight... Fight... or Freeze:   Lizard Brain/Amygdala

A Question:  What do we want to look at all day?  Read between the lines of the visual cues...

  • A Brain Based Approach to looking at all forms of Visual Imagery:
  • NeuroMarketing tactics to pull you down into your reptilian brain: 
  • Stimulus Response
  • Your Lizard Brain is still running the show
  • All Media is overwhelming us 
  • Bullying in Social Media-- 

NeuroMarketing on TV: Drug company ads

  • Modeling behavior in drug ads-- leading the witnesses
  • Cognitive Dissonance
  • Neuro Linguistic Programming
  • Linking to other senses and concepts
  • Camouflage and Decision Paralysis
  • Shell games, eye tracking and fast media editing

95% of decisions are made by the subconscious

  • A brief overview of Dr Rick Hanson's work-- Your internal Lizard, Mouse and Monkey parts of the brain
  • Advertising jingles are mantras-- your "internal parrot"
  • The Negativity Bias in advertising motivates you by fear/shortage: "act now"... or you will lose out...  "FOMO"
  • The Steady Gaze of the drug company TV ad actors-- to hold you in communion
  • The Primate Intimidation Stare:  in automotive design, in fashion advertising...
  • Hierarchy of Needs-- a Postulate:
  • 1: Food and Shelter  
  • 2: Social Status (via costuming/wearable trophies)
  • 3: Finding a Mate...
  • 4: The Nest and the Nesting Urge
  • The Urge to Trophy, etc...
  • Personal Art vs Impersonal Art: 
  • The Pump of Commerce:  Overstuffed Dark toned Tuscan (Personal representational art) to Austere Light toned clean lines and (Impersonal Abstract Art)
  • How can we find meaning in abstract art that stimulates us the way that Tuscan did?
  • Personal and Impersonal Art in religious artifacts and traditions: Zen vs Christianity
  • Lesson:  Buy art You Love-- Forget the design trends!
  • Zen and the Art of looking at Art
  • What the Taoists can teach us about viewing life:  Include death in the picture-- it is part of life.  The  whole big picture helps us to reframe what is important: savor the beauty of the moment 
  • The Off Switch:   
  • Lao Tzu: "Before action, there is rest." 

Rest and recovery-- give it time to sink in:
Retraining your Brain:  Tips from Rick Hanson-- author of Buddha's Brain

  • Take only 20 seconds to focus on what you want to drive into long term memory.  For me-- when I had to give up art-- it was appreciating the intense red of the geraniums outside: "Color that exceeds its form"
  • Caudate nucleus -- a part of the reward center of the brain-- how nuns lit this up: by thinking of their spiritual experiences.   Why we need inspirational art in our lives-- whether representational or non representational.  

Art IS a symbolic language.  See the symbolism in all forms of design-- both in Nature and manmade-- and use it wisely to inspire you, uplift you, and support you in your goals.