Dynamic Visual Noise in History

Mahavairocana Mandala - Tibet, 19th Century

Childhood Obesity News has discussed how the birth of a craving can either be internal, from some chemical prompt, or external, from seeing a billboard or whatever. Also, people are like cats. They like to watch something in motion. A certain kind of moving pattern provides visual white noise or dynamic visual noise, or elaborated intrusion. Eva Kemps and Marika Tiggemann, among others, have shown that dynamic visual noise can help a person shake off food cravings, and, even more astonishing, can help serious drug addicts.

Now, think about Tibetan monks. The whole object of monkhood is to let cravings drop away. Centuries ago, the monks discovered that a certain kind of painted artifact, a mandala, could exert a strange magic.

Deepak Chopra says:

These visual patterns can have a powerful effect on the mind. Just as primordial sounds, or mantras, can be useful in balancing our mind and body through hearing, primordial shapes can generate increased coherence in our brains, creating a balancing and calming influence. In cultures around the world, beautiful visual patterns are used to quiet a restless mind.

Look at one of these designs long enough, and it’s likely to start moving. The mandala has power, even if it’s not animated or mechanical, or electronic. It’s an elegant, low-tech, yet effective tool for self-improvement, which takes the mind off the appetites.

Another source says:

The Word Mandala is thought to have been brought to european culture around 1900 by Dr. Carl Gustav Jung… The Mandala has existed throughout history in almost every culture’s mythology and teachings of spirituality. The Doctor used Mandalas to help his patients uncover insights about their inner life and true nature.

But even before the monks and mandalas came along, humans were letting themselves slide into relaxed states by looking at nature. A remote ancestor would sit at the edge of a pond, watching the sun’s multifaceted reflection on the gentle ripples of the water’s surface. What a light show! Or Aspen trees, whose every trembling leaf is attached by a supple, flattened stem. With the slightest wind, the eyes are captivated by thousands of dancing reflection points.

Remember those eye-catching signs that used to be seen at car sales lots, with the text in tiny bits of ever-moving shiny foil? You could stare at one of those signs and zone out. It was just a modern version of the pond ripples or the quaking leaves. Even more modern is the concept of visual white noise produced by a screen that looks like a TV set tuned to the null channel.

In writing about their experiments with elaborated intrusion or dynamic visual noise, Kemps and Tiggemann went even further, suggesting that:

… [R]eal-world implementations could incorporate the dynamic visual noise display into existing accessible technologies, such as the smart phone and other mobile, hand-held computing devices.

What a thing! When the first tiniest rustle of a craving starts to sneak up, wouldn’t it be great to have a portable dynamic visual noise generator in the pocket, and activate it at will? Imagine a stressed, conflicted child giving it a try — taking out the little device and sitting down in a quiet corner to gaze at the pattern for a while. Imagine the child getting up a few minutes later, refreshed, and with the mental image of chocolate-covered bacon banished by the wonder of elaborated intrusion. It could happen.

Okay, granted, to any parent this might sound a little creepy, for just a second. Here’s the thing: A normal child is going to spend a certain amount of time staring at a screen anyway, in a mental state similar to hypnosis, soaking up all kinds of messages — some of which they would be better off not exposed to, including junk food advertisements that stimulate cravings.

Or, the child could be staring at a dynamic visual noise pattern, which research strongly suggests can shove craving images out of the picture. A kid could be learning to relax in a way that reduces stress. As we all know, a lower stress level equals fewer cravings. What’s not to like?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Mandalas,” Chopra.com
Source: “Mandala,” Mandala.us
Image by Cea. (Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology), used under its Creative Commons license.

2 Responses

  1. I am a chiropractor and one of the leading causes of accelerated degenerative disc disease is obesity. I am so glad to see that there are more posts raising awareness of childhood obesity. It is a real threat to the long term health of the kids. I’ll leave a few comments on the blog to help boost your page rank. Nice work.

    1. That’s alarming news that obesity is one of the leading causes of disc degenerative disease. This does not bode well for a third of the country in regard to the aging process.
      Thanks for your wake up call, Dr. White. – RP

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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