Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Blip - Low Latent Inhibition: A preliminary explanation

A task has been looming over me, one that I have not been looking forward to but am nonetheless about to attempt. That would be the task of attempting to explain the truth about a rare and obscure behavioural trait known as low latent inhibition, a trait that I infact exude. This will end up being a common subject under discussion, not out of some egocentric self-love trip but simply because LLI is so very rare, interesting and information about it is scarce and often inaccurate.

Case in point, If anybody reading this has watched the tv show 'Prison break' then they might remember that the main character in that (Michael Schofield if memory serves) supposedly has LLI. Their portrayal of it however is greatly lacking, terribly patronising and just generally wrong. I'm not going to go into a comparison of why it's wrong, I'm just asking you kindly now to let go any preconceptions you have on this topic from sources such as 'Prison break' so that I may better explain this for you from a personal point of view.

Your senses take in all information thrown at them with no exceptions, all light that hits your eyes is accepted, the same is true for all sound and your ears. This stream of random information is sent to your brain which filters, sorts and then collates the information into a sensible stream of consciousness. The first thing it does is to decide which bits of information are relevant and which aren't, the natural process of disgarding the irrelevant is known as your inhibition. It stands to reason therefore that a person with low latent inhibition lacks this process either partially or entirely, hindering the minds capability to pick and choose more and less important pieces of sensory data.

The way the information is processed affects your perception of the world so it's quite easy to see how important a process inhibition is. In real terms this leads to not being able to ignore pointless things that you notice. This can be the relative colour of everything in the room around you, the amount of tiles on the wall or bristles on the carpet in a given area, it can include distant incomprehensible sounds that are unnecessary because they're too vague to be identifiable. This is an annoying and often stressful element of LLI but it is made exponentially worse when coupled with the second effect.

I call this a second effect but in truth it's just another way that the one and only 'symptom' of this odd condition alters the analysis of your perceptions. Another thing that inhibition deals with is your thought stream. When considering a word your brain maps out all of its implications to you and in turn all of their individual connotations, allow me to demonstrate:

Consider the word 'table' for a good 10 seconds or so. You will have, more than likely, come up with a rough idea of what a table is, how it is usually shaped, what it is usually made of, where you have one in your house, maybe even an example image of one popped up in your head too. While you are aware of all of these connections, it's actually a very short list of the most important ones, as decided by your brain. In reality your brain forms countless more connections that it doesn't tell you about because they are unnecessary and would confuse you too much, wasting too much brain power to think about such as: 

-Related qualia (packets of sensory information) like tablecloths, coasters, table legs, dovetail joints, copper bracketed hinge tables, doilies, glasses of milk, small black address books etc.
-The furthest limits of what object could be always or never classed as a table (how vertical/horizontal the table top is, how it is supported, what it is used for etc.)

But also more abstract instantly disregarded connections like:
-How many languages the world 'table' would be recogniseable in, based on linguistic similarities ('German = Tisch' maybe. 'French = La table' more than likely. 'Russian = стол' probably not, although it is pronounced as "stol" rather like "stuhl" which is German for chair, which isn't a table but you see my point, hopefully.)
-How much ink it takes to write the word 'Table' in a large font on a whiteboard (based on the size of the whiteboard, the manufacturer of the pen etc.)
-The sound a 3-legged oak table would make if it awkwardly rolled down an iron spiral staircase.

Well a person with LLI lacks the inherent function of the brain to remove thoughts like this automatically and can therefore be attempting to consider all the connections I've mentioned so far plus many more and it isn't optional, it's automatic. This effect also increases by an order of power because each individual connection (such as tablecloths) has its own set of connections to be considered and so on. This is an overwhelming thing to think about alot of the time, but imagine thinking about it along with everything else all of the time.

Different individuals react differently to having such an abstract way of thinking and it can lead to a myriad of bizarre effects and psychological alterations.

Hopefully this post has captured the absurdity of this kind of mental trait so that future related posts have a distinct context to be taken in.

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  1. You are crazy. You can't have LLI if you believe this is an apt description.

    A latent inhibition is, in laymens terms, a process or chemical reaction in the brain, in which the brain deems incoming stimuli either relevant or irrelevant, a filter if you will.

    A low latent inhibition is exactly that. A brains, either inability or choice, not to create this event or chemical reaction.

    Your comments about counting the amount of bristles in a carpet is ridiculous. Just because someone has LLI, it does not mean they have super eyesight.

    The last half of this godforsaken spiel is stupid too. A latent inhibition is a filter for INCOMING stimuli, not what your brain has thought up. You and your brain are one, you are your brain and your brain is you. You and your brain work together simultaneously and flawlessly. You cannot filter what your brain has thought as if it is a completely different person, because you thought of it.

    LLI causes people to make connections that others wouldn't see, not what others would deem apropos, this is because you take in everything. You in no way would try and figure out table was in other languages just because someone said it?! Are you fucking kidding?

    Also, having LLI does not make you a genius. You take in everything because everything you see, hear, touch, feel, taste is a CONSTANT stream of stimuli. You can forget it just as quick. You can hear in the background the date of King Henry VIII's death, that does not mean 2 years down the line you will remember that. You have LLI not an eidetic memory.

    Before you count my knowings as someone who thinks he has LLI because of what he has read online, your wrong. I took Ritalin for 8 years as prescribed by a doctor for ADHD only to be re-diagnosed with LLI.

    1. Hi anonymous, I'm glad you're speaking out and all, though it is a shame that you have unresolved feelings about it, there's no need to direct such anger around. To show you respect I won't get angry back or attempt to insult you or correct your own experiences.

      I will say that my thoughts on the subject have changed (if not, perhaps, grown) as I wrote this post over 3 years ago. I'll help you by clarifying and amending a little.

      I'm aware (and actually I remember being aware at the time, as evident in the post) that explaining LLI is very personal and so communicating it can be difficult. I certainly was aware that using the idea of numbers and counting was a little off, LLI doesn't improve your ability to count or create an impulsion to count but it was one of the ways it presented in me when I was much younger. I largely agree with you on this point, it doesn't apply as a general concept, but as a subjective experience. As for the 'other languages' point, I am a polyglot and spend all of my time thinking about and in multiple languages, this has been true for a long time now so such thoughts do in fact occur to me. And no I'm not kidding (fucking or otherwise).

      I have never said (nor believed) that having LLI makes you a genius or gives you photographic, eidetic or any kind of improved memory. Those things are totally separate and will themselves alter your experience with something like LLI.

      I have no intention of putting down what you believe or trying to discount your observations; there's no use in petty squabbling. I am however very glad you shared your opinion.

      As far as I know, I have LLI and have suffered under its effects for as much of my life as I can remember but I think it's very important to stress that the label is not important. What's important is understanding how your own mind works and attempting to build a life that caters for it as well as surrounding yourself with people that understand (or continue to attempt to understand you). Accordingly, with categorical imperatives in mind, I think it's just as important to attempt a level of understanding of those around you and their needs.

      As I try to get across at the start of the post, I was dreading writing it as I knew it wouldn't be very all-encompassing and would cause communication errors but I felt the need to express myself on the subject as more important than the potential problems.

      You make an interesting point about the brain/self dilemma and I wish it were as easy as you put it but I'm afraid centuries of theological and psychological writings have been pondering just that issue. I have always felt conflicted in structured ways, that I am fighting against what my mind/brain is trying to do. This can sound lke (and might indeed be) a contradiction but it nonetheless best describes difficulties I have with keeping my thoughts straight at times.

      Which brings me to my final clarification. Some of the things I wrote in this post, the parts that drift away from the central point about qualia, I am aware don't cover all instances of LLI and are not fundamental compromising parts of LLI. Rather, they bear my imprint as person and present in ways applicable to me. How we think and how we express how we think (eg. how we write) captures and presents ourselves usualy in unintending ways. This is true of my post and of your comment.

      Thanks for the comment.



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