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Communication and the Brain

80:20 Principle

The 80:20 Principle is a mental representation from Vilifredo Pareto, an Italian economist. Up to 80% of what you want to do can be accomplished in 20% of the expected effort. Examples: 80% of profits come from 20% of products; 20% of baggage screeners account for 80% of mistakes according to the New York Times. (Gardner, Howard. Changing Minds. MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2006, pp 7-8)

A minority of causes, input, or efforts usually lead to a majority of results, outputs or rewards. (Koch, Richard. The 80:20 Principle. NY: Currency Doubleday, 1999, pp 3-4)

A's of Healthy Communication

Words are choices. Use words to sustain your important relationships. Here are five A's:

  • Attention - Pay attention to opportunitites to saying something kind and uplifting
  • Appreciation - Say "thank you" more often
  • Asking - As in "What can I do to help?"
  • Affection - People rarely get tired of hearing "You're the best," etc
  • Affirm - As in building up and encouraging, as in being a one-person cheering section

(Urban, Hal. Positive Words, Powerful Result. p 84-86. NY: Fireside Book, 2004).

Active Listening

Active listening involves listening with a purpose (e.g., gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve problems, share interest, see how another person feels, show support). It requires that the listener attends to the words and the feelings of the sender for understanding and takes the same amount or more energy than speaking. (Communication & Leadership. Article.)


An affirmation is a positive verbal statement, a form of communication. It can describe how you feel about yourself, about others, or about life. (Fox, Arnold, MD, and Barry Fox, PhD. Wake Up! You’re Alive! FL: Health Communications, 1988, pp 44-45)

Alcohol-Related Brain Injury

Alcohol related brain injury is associated with a change in thinking and memory abilities and can impact communication with others. Use concrete / familiar terms, talk more slowly, focus on one topic at a time, remind them of topic, redirect by repeating a question, ask yes-no questions. (Health and medical information for consumers; Victorian Government, Australia. Fact Sheet.)


Most people spend about 75 percent of their waking hours communicating knowledge, thoughts, and ideas to others. (Nonverbal Communication. Article.)

Amount, Male-Female

Studies by Deborah James and Janice Drakich, Understanding gender differences in amount of talk: reviewed 63 studies that examine the amount of talk time used by women and men. In 61 studies, men talked more than women. (Gaurav, Sood.And They Say Women Talk More. Article.)

Assumptions of Gender

The general assumption underlying most communication seems to be that all people are male until proven female (e.g., doctor versus woman doctor, lawyer versus female lawyer). (Moir, Anne, and David Jessel. Brain Sex, the Real Difference Between Men & Women. NY: Carol Publishing Group, 1989, 1991, pp 111-112)


Attachment is an inborn brain system. If it is working appropriately it motivates an infant to develop communication with caregivers, and to want to be close to them. (Siegel, Daniel J. The Developing Mind. NY: The Guilford Press, 1999, pp 67-77)


Did you know that babies initially use a communication system (body language) that all social animals use? Gradually babies learn to lean more heavily on the spoken word, while dogs, cats, and horses will continue to rely on body language. Although capable of learning verbal commands (a foreign language for them), dogs normally communicate through body language and facial expression and are attuned to reading these in their owners. Hungarian studies showed that dogs are receptive to human communication in a manner that was previously attributed only to 6-month-old human infants. Source


Connections between brain stem and limbic system help keep you conscious, alert, and in control. Communication between the limbic system and the cortex allows you to balance logic with emotions, and facts with feelings. (Brynie, Faith Hickman. 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked About Itself But Couldn’t Answer, Until Now. CT: Millbrook Press, 1998, p 12)

It appears that the left posterior perisylvian cortex is of fundamental importance to language processing, regardless of the modality in which it is conveyed (e.g., signing, hearing). (MacSweeney, Mairéad, et al.Dissociating linguistic and nonlinguistic gestural communication in the brain. NeuroImageVolume 22, Issue 4, August 2004, Pages 1605-1618. Abstract.)

Brain Regions

The brain is composed of different regions, each with its specific and particular functions, although each communicates with other regions. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. Why We Love. NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2004, pp 68-80)

Brain-Body Communication

There is a constant flow of information between all the cells in our body. Specific behaviors have been shown to alter the psychosomatic network and positively impact the brain/body communication. These include: affirmation, meditation, and visualization. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind(audiocassettes). CO: Sounds True, 2000.)

The inter-relationship between the central nervous system and immune system is bidirectional. Products of activated immune cells feed back to the brain and alter neural activity resulting in a “sickness response.” Only the brain can orchestrate such a pervasive array of changes. (PNSA. Watkins, Linda R., and Steven F. Maier. Implications of immune-to-brain communication for sickness and pain.1988. Article.)

Johns Hopkins University scientist study:  Growing fat cells and nerve cells in the same dish has produced what is believed to be the first demonstration of two-way communication between the cell types. The study, using rat and mouse cells, provides the first clear evidence that signals from fat cells can directly influence neurons outside of the brain. Researchers believe this has implications for understanding the storage and burning of fat, obesity, and related disorders, such as diabetes. (Source)

Cerebral Divisions

Using your brain structure, your dominance also determines which of your non-preferred modes you are most likely to use. Two of your less efficient modes are more available to you because they are located next to your preference and are connected to it by substantial neuronal bridges. Where such bridges exist, communication between modes and consequently iterative thinking is faster and easier. It is these two non-preferred modes, connected to your preference that you can use as auxiliaries.

Mutually Available Modes

Bridges Connecting Them

Frontal Left and Frontal Right

Corpus callosum

Basal Left and Basal Right

Corpus callosum

Frontal Left and Basal Left

Conduit between Broca’s and Wernicke’s

Frontal Right and Basal Right

Conduit between two unnamed, similarly located areas, in right hemisphere

Frontal Left and the Basal Right

Not connected

Frontal Right and the Basal Left

Not connected

Your third non-preferred mode, the one that is not next to your preference and is not connected to it by a bridge built of neurons, is your natural weakness. It is as inefficient as your other non-preferred modes and is located diagonally across the brain from your preference.  As no diagonal bridges exist in the brain, getting from your preference to this non-preferred mode is difficult. And, communication between this mode and your preference is significantly more work.  It is this third non-preferred mode, the one that is not connected to your preference, that you cannot readily use as an auxiliary and that you must ultimately accept as your weakest mode or inferior function. (Benziger, I. Katherine, PhD. Thriving in Mind – The Art and Science of Using Your Whole Brain. p. 55. IL: KBA The Human Resource Technology Company, 2006.)

Characteristic, Healthy Families

(Quoting Virginia Satir) Four general characteristics of healthy families: high self image for each person, direct/clear/specific/honest communication, flexible and appropriate rules, unafraid to relate to society. (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971, pp 114-115)

Characteristic, Healthy Relationship

A healthy relationship is usually characterized by specific signs (7 are listed) including independence, open/honest communication, constructive fights, and trust. (Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1990, pp 356-359)


Refer to Children and the Brain for additional information.

Children: Speech Onset and Fluency

Girls begin talking at an earlier age than do boys, their speech is more comprehensible at an earlier age, they use short sentences earlier, and they are more fluent than males from 12 months on. The variety of speech sounds used by boys and girls in their first year of life seems to be almost identical but there is often a difference in control of sounds during the second year in favor of girls. (Eakins, Barbara Westbrook, and R. Gene Eakins. Sex Differences in Human Communication. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.,1978. pp 84-86)

Communication, Interpersonal

At least four key principles impact interpersonal communication: inescapable, irreversible, complicated, and contextual. (King, Donnell. Four Principles of Interpersonal Communication. Article.)


During the transmitting of the message, two processes will be received by the receiver: content (e.g., actual words or symbols known as language); context (e.g., way the message is delivered known as Paralanguage). (Communication and Leadership. Article.)


Refer to Brain Function for additional information.


Consider technical details of your communication as the content of your testimony, nonverbal communication as the context. Both may be of equal importance. (Nonverbal Communication. Abstract.)

Refer to Message for studies on how the content of a two-person conversation is communicated.


90 percent of a speaker’s credibility is determined by the delivery of the message and less than 10 percent of the credibility is determined by the words spoken. (Referenced to Mehrabian, Albert. Silent Messages: Implicit Communication of Emotions and Attitudes. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1971.) (Verbal and Nonverbal Communications: Which Is More Important for Credibility? Abstract.)

Credibility by Gender

Studies: same lecture was given to two groups of students, one presented by a male and the other by a female. Presentation by the male was accepted as much more authoritative, while those from the woman were viewed as less credible. Similar results were found when readers thought the author of a paper was male (viewed the paper in much more positive light) rather than female. (Eakins, Barbara Westbrook, and R. Gene Eakins. Sex Differences in Human Communication. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co, 1978, p 10)


Communication, in its most basic definition, involves a sender (encoder) and a receiver (decoder). (Communications in Business. Article.)

Communication is the process that human beings use to exchange information. Messages are sent and received simultaneously on two levels: verbally through the use of words and nonverbally by behaviors that accompany the words. (Therapeutic Communication – Building the Nurse-Client Relationship. Article.)


Dendritic spines on neurons: One trillion synaptic compartments, or "dendritic spines," could fit into a thimble. ()Science News. Scientists Reveal Details Of Brain Cell Communication: Implications For Learning & Memory. Article.)

Distance Zones

Four distance zones usually observed in US, Canada, and many Eastern European Nations:

  • Intimate (0-18 inches) between people for close intimacy
  • Personal (18-36 inches) talking with family and friends
  • Social (4-12 feet) acceptable for communication in social, work, and business settings
  • Public (12-25 feet) between a speaker and an audience

Some cultures (e.g., Hispanic, East Indian, Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern) are more comfortable with less than 4-12 feet of space between them while talking. (Therapeutic Communication – Building the Nurse-Client Relationship. Article.)


Since we live in a composite whole-brain world, and the reality of any multifunctional group is the diversity of its thinking and, therefore, its perceptions and language, it is essential from a c9ommunications standpoint to increase our tolerance of and understanding of what people are saying who are different from us. (Herrmann, Ned. The Whole Brain Business Book. p 38-41. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1996.)


Refer to Downshifting and the Brain for additional information.

Drug Abuse

Studies over three (3) decades: Structural and functional brain changes occur with repeated drug abuse. Extensive brain changes can include damage to nerve cells and altered biochemical mechanisms in communication pathways. (Zickler, Patrick. Acute Dopamine Surge May Erode Resolve to Abstain. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA NOTES, Vol 19, No 1, April, 2004, pp S1-S16)

Dual Messages

In person-to-person communications the messages are sent on two levels simultaneously. If the nonverbal cues and the spoken message are incongruous, the flow of communication is hindered. Right or wrong, the receiver of the communication tends to base the intentions of the sender on the nonverbal cues he receives. (WebsiteNonverbal Communication. Article.)

Electromagnetic Energy

Research studies have shown that the heart communicates information to the brain and throughout the body via electromagnetic field interactions. The heart generates the body’s most powerful and most extensive rhythmic electromagnetic field. The heart’s magnetic component is about 500 times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field and can be detected several feet away from the body. It was proposed that, this heart field acts as a carrier wave for information that provides a global synchronizing signal for the entire body (McCraty, R., and M. Atkinson and R. T. Bradley. Electrophysiological Evidence of IntuitionPart 2; A System-Wide Process? Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2004); 10(2):325-336)

Refer to Electromagnetic Energy for additional information.

Electronic Communication

Electronic communication differs from other methods in several key areas:

  • Speed
  • Permanence
  • Cost of Distribution
  • Accessibility
  • Security and Privacy
  • Sender Authenticity

(A Guide to Electronic Communication & Network Etiquette. Article.)

The reader cannot see your face or hear the tone of your voice so all expression must be conveyed by words and punctuation. Avoid anger, sarcasm, etc., and the use of ALL CAPS (e.g., this type form may make it appear that you are shouting). (The Internet, Intranet, and E-mails. Article.)


The universe is an integration of interdependent energy fields. There is a massive complexity in the intercommunication among physical parts and energy fields that form the whole. The flow of information is holistic. Biological dysfunctions can results from miscommunication anywhere within these complex pathways. (Lipton, Bruce H., PhD. The Biology of Belief. CA: Mountain of Love / Elite Books, 2005, pp 101-105)

Refer to Energy and the Brain for additional information.


Refer to Cellular Memory for additional information regarding cellular communication from and to generations.


All organisms, including humans, communicate and read their environment by evaluating energy fields. Being depending on spoken and written language however, humans have neglected their energy sensing communication system. (Lipton, Bruce H., PhD. The Biology of Belief. CA: Mountain of Love / Elite Books, 2005, p 120)


Males tend to receive more positive feedback and encouraging responses, especially from instructors and female peers. (Eakins, Barbara Westbrook, and R. Gene Eakins. Sex Differences in Human Communication. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1978, pp 49-52)


Refer to Forgiveness/Forgiving for additional information.

Frequency, Male-Female

Study of seven university faculty meetings: with one exception males spoke more often; without exception males spoke longer at each episode. (Tannen, Deborah, PhD. Talking from Nine to Five. NY: Harper Books, 1995, p 280)

Gender Preferences

Study 2004: The most preferred communication medium among male participants was face-to-face while among women it was the cellular phone. The least preferred communication medium among men was US Mail and least preferred among women was instant messaging. (Cap, John R. Communication Habits: Men, Women & the Media They Prefer. Article.)


Communication is a process that begins during gestation. (Tomatis, Alfred A, M.D. Editor Timothy M. Gilmore, PhD, et al. About the Tomatis Method. Canada: Listening Centre Press, 1989, pp 20-24)


Haptics is the study of touching as nonverbal communication. Touches that can be defined as communication include: handshakes, holding hands, kissing (cheek, lips, and hand), back slap, “hi-five,” shoulder pat, brushing arm, etc. Each of these can trigger positive or negative feelings in the receiver. (Nonverbal CommunicationArticle.)


Visualizing (internally mentally picturing) the healing process within the body can help. It enhances communication between the mind and the body. (Sylvia, Claire, with William Novak. A Change of Heart. NY: Little, Brown and Company, 1997, pp xi-xiii)


Human beings distinguish sounds that are essential to communication by listening to the music of speech (e.g., pitch, inflection, lilt, cadence of a person’s words). Females have a biological edge in this area. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. The First Sex. NY: Random House, 1999, p 60)

Hearing is the act of perceiving sound. It is involuntary and simply refers to the reception of aural stimuli. Listening is a selective activity which involves the reception and the interpretation of aural stimuli. It involves decoding the sound into meaning.

Heart to Brain

Neurocardiology has provided solid scientific evidence that the heart communicates with the brain in several ways: Neurologically (transmission of nerve impulses); Biochemically (hormones and neurotransmitters); Biophysically (pressure waves). Now there is growing scientific evidence of energetic communication (through electromagnetic field interactions). (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. CA: Harper SF, 1999, pp 28-34)

Your heart is involved in the processing and decoding of intuitive information. Previous studies by Childre and McCraty (2001) suggested that the heart’s field was directly involved in intuitive perception through its coupling to an energetic information field outside the bounds of space and time. Additional studies provided evidence that both the heart and brain receive and respond to information about a future event before the event actually happens. Even more surprising was that the heart appeared to receive this intuitive information even before the brain received it. (McCraty R, M. Atkinson, and M, Bradley RT (2004, a), Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: Part 1. The Surprising Role of the Heart, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; 10(1):133-143, 2004; Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: Part 2; A System-Wide Process? Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2004); 10(2):325-336)


Refer to Cerebral Hemispheres (under Brain Function) for additional information.


Most hyperlexics can be placed somewhere along a spectrum consisting of autistics at one end and at the other end children who have problems with spoken language and communication. Hyperlexic readers are unusual because they don’t have to be taught how to read. Their problem involves speaking and understanding the speech of others. (Restak, Richard, MD. The Secret Life of the Brain. Washington D.C.: The Dana Press and Joseph Henry Press, 2001, pp 65-66)

Implicit versus Explicit

Explicit message expresses the information directly. Implicit message expresses the information indirectly. There is a great danger for misunderstanding in the field of implicit messages. (Schumacher, Marinita. Key Principles of Effective Communication. Article.)


Communication over the internet differs from face-to-face in a number of ways: fewer paralinguistic and non-verbal cues and less immediate communication in general can lead to misunderstandings; fewer cues related to appearance can reduce biases related to physical attractiveness, race, and age. (Lecture 13, July 31 2007. UCLA Loneliness Scale. Article.)


Your heart is involved in the processing and decoding of intuitive information. Previous studies by Childre and McCraty (2001) suggested that the heart’s field was directly involved in intuitive perception through its coupling to an energetic information field outside the bounds of space and time. Additional studies provided evidence that both the heart and brain receive and respond to information about a future event before the event actually happens. Even more surprising was that the heart appeared to receive this intuitive information even before the brain received it. (McCraty R, M. Atkinson, and M, Bradley RT (2004, a), Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: Part 1. The Surprising Role of the Heart, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; 10(1):133-143, 2004; Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: Part 2; A System-Wide Process? Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2004); 10(2):325-336)


In verbal communication kinesics includes gestures, eyes, facial expression, posture, etc. (Interpersonal Communication Involves… Article.)


In most people (97%), both Broca's area (spoken speech) and Wernicke's area (heard speech) are found in only the left hemisphere of the brain. (Chulder, Dr. Eric. The Brain and Communication. Think Quest. Article.)

Language-Associated Protein

Researchers report a sex difference in the expression of a language-associated protein in rats or humans. They analyzed the levels of Foxp2 protein in the brains of four-day-old female and male rats and compared the ultrasonic distress calls made by the animals when separated from their mothers and siblings. Compared with females, males had more of the protein in brain areas associated with cognition, emotion, and vocalization. They also made more noise than females—and were preferentially retrieved and returned to the nest first by the mother. When Foxp2 protein levels were reduced in male pups and increased in female pups, they reversed the sex difference in the distress calls, causing males to sound like females and the females like males. This change led the mother to reverse her behavior as well, preferentially retrieving the females over the males. In a preliminary study of Foxp2 protein in a small group of children, researchers found that girls had more of the Foxp2 protein in the cortex, a brain region associated with language, than age-matched boys (opposite from rat brains).  (J. Michael Bowers. et al. Foxp2 Mediates Sex Differences in Ultrasonic Vocalization by Rat Pups and Directs Order of Maternal Retrieval. The Journal of Neuroscience, February 20, 2013; Vol. 33, Issue 8:pages 3276 %u20133283 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0425-12.2013)


Laughter is the most enjoyable form of human communication. Humans are the only animals able to appreciate all the shadings of humor; it integrates the limbic system with the frontal lobes. (Donahue, Phil. The Human Animal. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1985, 1986, pp 331-334)

The immediate involuntary action of laughter forms the most direct communication link possible between people, limbic brain to limbic brain. People who relish each other’s company laugh easily and often; those who distrust/dislike each other laugh little, if at all. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD, with Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee. Primal Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002, p 12)

Refer to Laughter and the Brain for additional information.


Humor can be used to break down barriers to communication so that professors can better connect and deliver their messages to students and other audiences. (Berk, Ronald A., PhD. Professors are from Mars, Students are from Snickers. Book Review.)

Refer to Learning and the Brain for additional information.

Left Hemisphere

In most people (97%), both Broca's area (spoken speech) and Wernicke's area (heard speech) are found in only the left hemisphere of the brain. (Chulder, Dr. Eric. The Brain and Communication. Think Quest. Article.)

Listening Rate

People speak at 100 to 175 words per minute, but they can listen intelligently at 600 to 800 words per minute (WPM). (Communication and Leadership. Article.)

Male-Female Differences

Males tend to speak when they have something to say. Females use communication as a means of discovering a point. (Gray, John, PhD. Men, Women and Relationships.OR: Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., 1990-1993, pp 81-82)

The female brain processes both language and feelings at the same time and far more efficiently than does the male brain. (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning (Revised). CA: The Brain Store, 2005, pp 16-17)

Refer to Gender Differences and the Brain for additional information.

Mehrabian Communication Research

Mehrabian established this classic statistic for the effectiveness of spoken communications (involving attitudes and feelings):

  • 7% of meaning is in the words that are spoken.
  • 38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
  • 55% of meaning is in facial expression.

(Professor Albert Mehrabian’s communications model. Article.)

There are basically three elements in any face-to-face communication: words, tone of voice, and body language. These three elements account differently for the meaning of the message: Words account for 7%; Tone of voice accounts for 38%; Body language accounts for 55% of the message. (The original research was undertaken in 1971 by Albert Mehrabian related to communication involving attitudes and feelings). It is often quoted, sometimes out of context, and forms a basis for understanding that body language and tone of voice are evidently important aspects of communication. Article.)

Original research related to face-to-face communication and like versus dislike: found that when there was a lack of congruence between verbal and nonverbal components of a message, people tended to believe the nonverbal portions (in communications involving attitudes and feelings). Often abbreviated as “3 Vs” for Verbal, Vocal and Visual or as the “7%-38%-55% Rule.” Total Liking = 7% Verbal Liking + 38% Vocal Liking + 55% Facial Liking. (Misinterpretation of Mehrabian’s Rule. Article.)

Dr. Mehrabian study at UCLA 1967 with communication involving attitudes and feelings: The words you use in your face-to-face message account for only 7% of your communication. The sound of your voice accounts for 38% of your communication, and the rest can be attributed to nonverbals/body language. When communicating over the telephone, 84% of communication is vocal and 16% is verbal. (Peterson, Russ, and Kevin Karschnik. Communication Factors. Article.)

Studies by Mehrabian in dealing with like-dislike: his work established a classic statistic for the effectiveness of spoken face-to-face communications (involving attitudes and feelings) even if percentages may change slightly based on the context:

  • 7% of meaning is in the words that are spoken
  • 38% of meaning is paralinguistic, the way that the words are said
  • 55% of meaning is in facial expression

(Professor Albert Mehrabian’s communications modelArticle.)

Message Conveyed

Study: A mismatch between words and nonverbal portions of a communication cause a shift in brain waves similar to the reaction to misused or unexpected words. Pay as much attention to the physical actions of people as to what they are saying in their verbal message. If congruent, the message will be more powerful, and vice versa. (Where brain science and marketing meetArticle.)

Study: How messages are conveyed person-to-person:

  • 7% actual words
  • 38% tonality
  • 55% body language

By telephone, there is less body language impact although the decrease will relate to how your body position and posture impact your voice tone and words. (Davis, Jeannie. Beyond Hello. CO:Now Hear This, 1999, p 110)

Study: between 60 and 90 percent of a message’s effect may come from nonverbal clues. (Nonverbal Communication. Article.)

Study: 7 percent of the information is communicated through words. Vocal tone accounts for 55 percent, and body language accounts for 38 percent. (U.S. Coastguard. Effective Communication. Article.)

Study: the semantic content of a message can be conveyed in different ways (e.g., words, numbers, dramatic renditions, bulleted lists, graphs, Cartesian coordinates). (Gardner, Howard. Changing Minds. MA:Harvard Business School Press, 2006, p 11)

Study: more than 90 percent of what a message conveys may actually be based on a positive attitude and nonverbal elements. (Communications in Business. Article.)

Study: 55% of the impact of communications comes from facial expressions and body language, versus 38% from vocal inflection (UCLA). (Google Answers. Abstract.)

When dealing with children, be aware that 60% of the message will be conveyed by your facial expression and body language and 30% by the tone of your voice. (Lehman, James. The Total TransformationProgram. Legacy Publishing Company, 2004)


Metamessages (or the message underlying the ostensible content) frame a conversation much like a picture frame provides a context for the picture. (Tannen, Deborah, PhD. You Just Don’t Understand. NY: Ballantine Books, 1991, p 40)


Refer to Brain Function for additional information.


Nagging, almost exclusively applied to females, is the result of poor communication skills / style / behaviors on the part of both individuals. (Pease, Barbara and Allan.Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. NY: Broadway Books, 2004, pp 20-27)

Needs Triad

Quotes Paul MacLean’s family triad of needs as: audiovisual communication, nurturing, and play. (Pearce, Joseph Chilton. The Biology of Transcendence. VT: Park Street Press, 2002, pp 99-105)


Studies: A mismatch between words and nonverbal portions of a communication cause a shift in brain waves similar to the reaction to misused or unexpected words. Pay as much attention to the physical actions of people as to what they are saying in their verbal message. If congruent, the message will be more powerful, and vice versa. (Where brain science and marketing meetArticle.)


Studies: blueberries are brain food. They can reverse deterioration of motor function associated with aging speed up communications between neurons, prevent loss of nerve growth factors, and positive impact dopamine release. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. NY: Warner Books, 2004, pp 50-70)

Nonverbal Communication

Estimates differ: between 65% and 93% of the emotional impact of a message comes from nonverbal communication sources. (Neff, Blake J., PhD. A Pastor’s Guide to Interpersonal Communication. NY:The Hawthorne Press, 2006, p 77)

Nonverbal messages will usually override verbal messages. (Interpersonal Communication Involves… Article.)

Nonverbal communication can send signals that contradict or interfere with the effective presentation or reception of messages. Often they express true feelings more accurately than the spoken or written language (Herta A. Murphy and Herbert W. Hildebrandt, Effective Business Communications). (Nonverbal Communication. Article.)

A great deal of person-to-person communication is non-verbal form as opposed to oral and written forms. Non-verbal communication includes facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, body posture and motions, and positioning within groups. It may also include the way you wear your clothes or the silence you keep. (Nonverbal CommunicationArticle.)

Nonverbal Communication is information that is communicated without using words. Estimations:

  • 93% of communication is nonverbal
  • 55% through facial expression, posture, gesture
  • 38% through tone of voice

(The Message. Article.)

Nonverbal communication (e.g., facial expressions, gestures, posture, and tone of voice) is an important component of personal business interactions. It can occur through any sensory channel (e.g., sight, smell, sound, touch, taste). It may include a person’s dress, tone of voice, attitude, and movement. ( Marketing Information. Article.)

Passive Listening

Listening can be passive or active. Passive listening is little more that hearing. It occurs when the receiver or the message has little motivation to listen carefully (e.g., background music, story telling, television, being polite). (Communication and LeadershipArticle.)

Peripheral Cues

A message using the peripheral route attempts to persuade by focusing on issues or themes that are not directly related to the subject matter of the message. Robert Cialdini identified six types of peripheral cues (e.g., reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity) that may have nothing to do with the content of the message. (Moore, Charlie. Elaboration: Likelihood Model. Article.)

Positive Impact

Specific behaviors can alter the psychosomatic network and positively impact the brain/body communication:

  • Meditation
  • Affirmation
  • Visualization

(Pert, Candace, PhD. Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind. CO: Sounds True, 2000.)


Israeli Psychologists Studies: Participants with pre-frontal lobe damage had the most difficulty comprehending sarcasm.

L. hemisphere interprets the literal meaning of the utterance.

R. hemisphere and frontal lobes process the intentional, social, and emotional context, identifying the contradiction between the literal meaning and context.

The right ventromedial prefrontal cortex integrates the literal meaning with the social/emotional knowledge of the situation and previous situations, helping the listener determine the true meaning. (American Psychological Association. The Anatomy of Sarcasm: Researchers Reveal how the Brain handles this Complex Communication, 2005. Article.)

Satir’s Five Communication Stances

Satir studies 1988: four dysfunctional communication stances: placating, blaming, super reasonable, and irrelevant. The fifth stance, congruence, is functional. (Lambie, Rosemary A.. Classroom and Group Extension of Family Systems Concepts. Article.)

Separation, Maternal

The child’s desire to communicate and attitude toward life can be influenced by extended separations from the mother early in life (e.g., adoption, illness). (Tomatis, Alfred A, M.D., by Editor Timothy M. Gilmore, PhD, et al. About the Tomatis Method. Canada: Listening Centre Press, 1989, pp 20-24)

Sign Language

Normal human brains typically use speech as dominant mode of communication with acoustic stimulation as dominant sensory input for speech. If brain has damage to auditory system, the 2nd most dominant system for speech will click in (e.g., usually the visual system). Sign language will emerge with all the structural properties of spoken language. (Hauser, Mark D. The Evolution of Communication. Article.)

The use of sign language can stimulate and educate the right brain, thereby cultivating student creativity. Sign language's benefits are that it forces the hearing person to think differently, can add clarity to oral communication, and could be applied to help children with learning disabilities. (ERIC: EJ405300 - Using Sign Language to Access Right Brain Communication: A Tool for Teachers. Abstract.)


People typically speak at 100 to 175 words per minute, but they can listen intelligently at 600 to 800 words per minute (WPM). (Communication and Leadership. Article.)

Refer to Senses and the Brain for additional information.

Speech, Tonality

By listening to the pitch, inflection, lilt, and cadence of a person’s words (e.g., the music of speech), human beings distinguish sounds that are essential to sophisticated communication. Females have a biological edge in this area. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. The First Sex. NY: Random House, 1999, p 60)


In the mind-body-spirit concept) the concept of spirit may be the non-physical element or field of the mind that can communicate with the cosmos outside the constraints of space and time? The evidence for such communication comes from a variety of reported phenomena of extra-sensory perception (telepathy, precognition, and clairvoyance), psycho-kinesis, psychic healing, and religious experiences (Radin, D. I. The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena. SF: Harper Edge, 1997: 61-174; Henry, J. Parapsychology, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group: 91- 148, 2005).

Split-Brain Studies

The most important aspect of split-brain research is not that specific areas in the brain perform specific tasks but that in undertaking most physical and mental activities, the intricate integration of both hemispheres is fundamental. Smaller communicating commissures in the brainstem (e.g., left and right superior colliculi) are not cut in split-brain operations. (Dauphin, Bridget. Understanding Brain Specialization Through Split-Brain ResearchArticle.)


Refer to Stress and the Brain for additional information.

Stress, High Childhood

High stress levels during infancy and early childhood can lead to the poor development of communication zones in brain cells – a condition found in mental disorders such as autism, depression and mental retardation. a key messenger for stress, the neuropeptide CRH, can inhibit the normal growth of dendrites. (Early life stress can inhibit development of brain-cell communication zones, UCI study finds. Article.)


Successful communication depends on how well a sender conveys a message to a receiver relying on the six senses (e.g., seeing, hearing, speaking, smelling, touching, and tasting) and feedback. (Communications in Business. Article.)


Study of hippocampus: Depending on their size, dendritic spines contain from 1-20 (typically three) calcium channels that function as molecular gates. They open in response to electrical stimulation and allow calcium to flow into dendritic spines. Calcium, in turn, triggers biochemical events in the dendrite that modify synaptic strength and thereby encode memories. (Science News. Scientists Reveal Details Of Brain Cell Communication: Implications For Learning & Memory. Article.)

Talk, Learning to

Studies at McGill University: When human beings are learning to talk, the brain receives at least two types of feedback information. One type involves auditory information from the sound of the person’s own voice. The other involves information from receptors located in the skin (the largest organ of the body) and in the muscles. (Breakthrough in understanding of speech offers hope to the deaf. Sept., 2008. Article.)


The feminized brain has more highly developed communication and human interaction abilities so is better suited to teaching. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. NY: Broadway Books, 1998, pp 117-118)

Telephone Message Content

The figures used in training for telephone communication are:

  • 18% words
  • 82% voice quality (elements included: tone, inflection, pitch, rate and volume)

(Palczynski, Ford Motor Company. Article.)

Your telephone body language and posture affects your tone and the words you use.

  • Body Language: 10-16%
  • Actual words: between 14% - 20%
  • Tonality: approximately 70%

(Rose Polchin, President, RPolchin Consulting and Training, Certified Associate, Incoming Calls Management Institute. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Article.)

Telephone Message Conveyed

When communicating over the telephone, Dr. Mehrabian found that 84% of communication is vocal and 16% is verbal. (Peterson, Russ, and Kevin Karschnik. Communication Factors. Article.)


Television tends to engage the right cerebral hemisphere. Like computers, it uses several attributes (images, backlit screens, and speed) that tend to engage the right cerebral hemisphere and generate emotional involvement…in contrast to words (especially words employed in business communications) that involve the left cerebral hemisphere. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 136-137)

Refer to Television – Videos and the Brain for additional information.

Three “R’s”

Sperry and co-workers found the left hemisphere to be involved with the three R's: reading, writing and arithmetic. The right side, while it may be able to handle some words, is the master of form and geometry and music. When the right hemisphere does learn to write, it favors shoulder and arm muscles over those of the wrist and hand. (Pietsch, Paul. Splitting the Human Brain. Article.)

Two Messages

When asking for or giving information there are two levels of messages implied: an acknowledged content message and the underlying message (often not acknowledged). Males often focus on one and woman on the other. (Tannen, Deborah, PhD. You Just Don’t Understand. NY:Ballantine Books, 1991, p 11)

Unconscious Communication

Unconscious communication may be verbal or nonverbal. (Nonverbal Communication.Article.)

Verbal Communication

Verbal: meaning of or concerned with words (e.g., oral, speech, written, sign language). (Nonverbal CommunicationArticle.)

Video versus Audio

200% more is learnt in face to face meetings than with audio alone. (U of Wisconsin). Information is absorbed 40% faster than with audio alone (Wharton School of Business). (Google Answers. Abstract.)


Study of content of video spots for political male and female candidates: no significant differences in content in 1389 samples analyzed; nonverbal content was similar except female candidates smiled more. (Bystrom, Diane. Gender and Candidate CommunicationNY: Routledge, 2004, pp 36-38)

Visual Contribution

Study by Sumby and Pollack (1954) of visual contribution to speech intelligibility as a function of auditory signal-to-noise (S/N) ratios and vocabulary size: visual contribution to overall speech intelligibility increases as the S/N ratio is decreased, such that a listener who has never been trained in lip-reading always perceives speech more accurately when she sees the speaker’s face than when she does not. (Nielsen, Kuniko. Segmental differences in the visual contribution to speech intelligibility. Abstract.)


Mental rehearsal activates the same neural circuitry as does the real activity. (Goleman, Daniel. The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights. p 68-70. MA: More Than Sound, 2011)

Refer to Visualizing and the Brain for additional information.


In verbal communication vocalics includes: rate of speech, voice pitch on a musical scale, rhythm / vocal pauses, volume, tone, and voice quality or texture. (Interpersonal Communication Involves... Article.)

Voice Quality

The manner in which a verbal statement is presented (e.g., rhythm, breathiness, hoarseness, or loudness). It involves aspects of speaking and vocalizing not usually included in the study of languages and linguistics. (Givens, David B. Center for Nonverbal Studies. Tone of Voice. 1998-2005. Article.)

Voice Tone

Tone of voice reflects psychological arousal, emotions, and mood. It may also carry social information, as in a sarcastic, superior, or submissive manner of speaking. (Givens, David B. Center for Nonverbal Studies. Tone of Voice. 1998-2005. Article.)

White Blood Cells

Studies of white blood cells separated from the rest of the body: there is a reaction in the separated cells (when the donor experiences specific emotions such as anger or fear) even if miles apart. (Sylvia, Claire, with William Novak. A Change of Heart. p 224-226. NY: Little, Brown and Company, 1997.)

Donor’s in vitro oral leukocytes (white blood cells taken from the person’s mouth) registered electrical changes based on the emotions the donor was exhibiting, up to 12 kilometers between the test tube of leukocytes and the donor. The demonstrated biocommunication may represent a signal that is a new form of communication or a new type of energy. (Reproduced from The International Journal of Biosocial Research Publication Office, P O Box 1174, Tacoma, WA, 98401-1174 USA. Source)

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