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Metaphorical neuro-science

By on March 4, 2015
Picture courtesy of dream designs and

We love neuroscience! Okay then we said it, we admitted we are neuroscience junkies. I love reading about neuroscience, as a result I use a lot of neuroscience explanations to support my change work and in my teaching. And it’s highly effective, coaching clients from the business world who would be very reluctant to do a ‘visualization’ are delighted to learn about how they can use the brain’s working memory to program themselves for success; same activity different name!

Now of course it’s easy for me to tell you that explanations pulled from neuroscience are more effective than other types of ‘metaphor’. After all, I haven’t really carried out any systematic scientific research on the effectiveness of different types of metaphor. So I was more than delighted to find this article from 2014 where researchers tested the believability of facts that were ‘ supported by neuroscience’ compared to the same facts supported by ‘psychology’.

Participants in the research were told that they beloved politician from their political party had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. If the diagnosis was correct then he would have to stand down and likelihood was that he would be replaced by a candidate from the other party. Now, the participants were broken up into two groups, one group was told that the diagnosis was based on psychological tests while second group was told that the diagnosis was based upon brain scans. The group who had been told the diagnosis was based on brain scans were much more likely to believe the diagnosis, even though it would adversely affect their political party. In contrast, the group who was told that the diagnosis was supported by psychological testing tended to discount the diagnosis. In fact, it’s very difficult to diagnose Alzheimer’s using brain scans, and all diagnoses are done using psychological tests so the participants reactions were not aligned with medical reality.

What the research shows is that, in general, people tend to believe in neuroscience, to believe in brain scanning. other research also supports this, showing that people are more likely to believe a pseudoscientific article they read if it is accompanied by a picture of a brain scan!

If you want to get some great neuroscientific metaphors,  please feel free to buy our book, Keeping the Brain in Mind by Shawn Carson and Melissa Tiers, available at This book contains tons of research designed to provide support for many different change work, coaching and hypnotic techniques. When you use these research studies with your clients, they are much more likely to believe in the possibility of change, and therefore much more likely to change. And of course, all the research is true!

The research about the power of neuro-scientific versus psychology support for a fact is linked below:

People are quicker to dismiss evidence from psychology than neuroscience

These new results add to past findings showing people’s bias for neuroscience and other “hard” sciences and against psychology. People are quicker to dismiss evidence from psychology than neuroscience

Picture courtesy of dream designs and

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