Is there a way to train a neural network to detect subliminal messages? Where can I find the dataset on which to train the neural network?

If I have to create the dataset, how would I go about it?

United Nations has defined subliminal messages as perceiving messages without being aware of them, it is unconscious perception, or perception without awareness. Like you may be aware of a message but cannot consciously perceive that message in the form of text, etc.

There are two many types of subliminal messages, one which can be made through visual means, another which can be made through audio.

In visual means, I'm referring to these types:

  1. Messages which are flashed for very short while on the screen.
  2. Messages whose opacity is changed to blend with the background.
  3. Messages whose colors are varied slightly to blend with the background.

Example of 3rd type of subliminal messages: if there is a background of red, on this can be shown a message made up of slight variation of red, as a conscious mind can't distinguish between such close shades of red, people will take the entire thing to be red block, but a subconscious mind notice the slight variation in color, register the message, because humans can see millions of colors.

  • $\begingroup$ You would find as many subliminal messages and normal (non-subliminal-message) images as you could, then train a classifier on those two sets. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


Setting aside the dubious nature of subliminal messages. You have to clearly define what subliminal is. In all your cases presented, a manual algorithmic approach would be better. An ANN would tend to average out the subliminal messages as noise, just as your brain would. In the case of #2, #3, it's a matter of contrast, in which case computer vision methods of bringing out low contrast details to the forefront combined with a manual algorithm (perhaps an OCR pass for content not expected to have text) would be the way to go. ANN are not magic bullets, and still need to be used appropriately.

  • $\begingroup$ By "dubious nature" do you mean they don't work? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ @noviceFedora, sort of. There is research showing some effect, but minor and not toward anything a person wasn't already feeling actionable towards. Subliminal messaging effects have been exaggerated just like the effects of hypnotizing. All research I've ever read shows the brain keeps it's hold on the individual, and any attempt to influence them beyond surface level fails. Thus, it's dubious nature, refers to it's exaggerated impact, and thus a likelihood of exaggerated worry about the issue. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ Note that this is similar to your other worry on EE stackexchange about the Fry Effect and it's potential usage to attack someone with voices and other auditory hallucinations. The things you read online about microwave induced auditory hallucinations are greatly exaggerated. In reality, such a thing is hard to control anywhere near that level, from a fundamental physics perspective. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ I request you to watch these two videos of Derren Brown: 1. Tricking Advertisers with subliminals: youtube.com/watch?v=43Mw-f6vIbo and 2. A Toy's Story: How to control a nation: youtube.com/watch?v=EchfO2pjOrM Both of these videos show how subliminals can be used to manipulate people, there are few other videos by other magicians and mentalists too, if you want I can find them, you might say they were staged but I don't think so. Would you please provide links to your claims that they minimal effect. From my experience I think they do work. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know if you have seen my thread on Dream.In.Code.net or not, in one of my posts there I have explained my reasons for believing subliminals work. I think subliminals and hypnotism have to be tailored to specific individuals using details of the subject. I don't know what your background is, but if you don't have a background in human perception, neurology, psychology, it is unfounded to hold the belief that subliminals and hypnotism don't work. Maybe the people who use these technologies spread misinformation to keep people defenseless. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 19:32

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