What is Low Latent Inhibition
What exactly is Low Latent Inhibition?
In order to even attempt to explain what low latent inhibition is, I feel it is vital that an understanding of the term “latent inhibition” is reached first of all, so that it’s easier for people to grasp the concept in its entirety. Latent inhibition is a term used to refer to the observation that a familiar stimulus (e.g. something we see, hear, smell, feel or taste that we’ve had before) takes longer to acquire meaning (as a signal or conditioned stimulus) than a new stimulus.
For example when you go through a door in your house you most likely do so by using the door handle to open it. You are familiar with door handles and how they work, what the purpose of them is and in most cases a door handle wouldn’t interest you enough for you to pay it any notice. Why should you? You know how they work already and have seen them before. Your brain applies the same rule to different types of door handles on all sorts of doors, “it is there so that I can open this door”. You do not question the choice of door handles or look into the finer details in terms of why that door handle in particular was chosen, because if your brain had to do this every time a new stimulus presented itself it wouldn’t be able to cope and would overload.
Generally your brain only processes all of the finer details relating to a stimulus if that stimulus is new or unfamiliar. To use the door handles example, although you wouldn’t pay any attention to the usual type of door handle you use, your brain would process more information when faced with the door handle on an aeroplane or a train maybe. This is because the stimuli presented to you by the aeroplane or train door handle isn’t as familiar to you and your brain wants to know why this is, and how it can most effectively utilize that door handle. That is latent inhibition.
Low latent inhibition
With low latent inhibition, an individual almost treats familiar stimuli in the same manner as they would new stimuli. Think of the details you notice when you see something new for the first time and how it grabs your attention. From those details all kinds of questions may arise in your mind. “What is that, what does it do, why is it there, what does it mean, how can it be utilized” and so on. The more of those questions you are able to figure out or answer, the better your understanding of that stimulus. The better your understanding of that stimulus, the more logical connections you are able to make between that stimulus and others around it. With the use of human memory you are then able to remember which questions you’ve already answered in relation to a particular stimulus, and those answers may then result in more questions. Low latent inhibition will usually result in extremely accurate instincts due to the sheer level of thought, processing and logical connection that has been made previously when faced with a stimulus or multiple stimuli.
So in terms of what we might see, somebody you know who’s generally always worn glasses might approach you having bought a new pair of glasses that look almost exactly the same but for a slightly different logo on the side. You usually wouldn’t notice the change of logo because your brain has almost dismissed the minor details that go with the pair of glasses they wear as ‘unimportant’. It’s your brains way of ensuring that it doesn’t need to constantly process new stimuli that probably won’t have any significance or importance to it. Yes they might wear glasses, but so what? In this example we simply see the glasses then move on.
An example of how somebody with low latent inhibition may see the same scenario could be that they almost instantly notice the smallest changes that seeing the new pair of glasses presents to them via the observation of stimuli, which may then lead to connections being made that people with normal latent inhibition might not make. For example from seeing the new logo, somebody with a low latent inhibition might deduce that their friend had been shopping since the last time they saw them, if they had been shopping they might have also recently received their monthly salary which meant they were able to buy the glasses. Did the friend have some insecurity with the last pair of glasses? If the person with low latent inhibition also knows the surrounding area well (and knows where the stores are that sell new glasses), and they know when the last time they saw their friend wearing his old glasses was (2 days ago), they might be able to work out the exact locations their friend will have been to, and depending upon which food their friend likes, where their friend might have eaten, and depending upon what their friends interests are, which other stores they might have been to after having been paid and what kind of things they might have bought…all from a small change of logo on a pair of glasses.
That same process can be true when any form of stimulus is observed by someone with low latent inhibition, and can be particularly effective in everyday use with regards to problem solving, data analysis, creativity, artistic expression and an infinite number of other possibilities. How do you think somebody with low latent inhibition and a high IQ (so that their brain can handle the constant influx of stimuli), might fare if stranded in a forest for example, miles away from anybody else and with no tools or no help readily available? The low latent inhibition would allow them to not only process and understand all stimuli in their surrounding environment, but to utilize that stimuli to further their goal and to help them adapt.
A great example of how a lot of people work with LLI is their brains naturally work on a “why, why, why, why” basis until they get to the root cause or origins of anything, rules, thoughts, someones intentions, someones actions, machinery etc. An example could be that most people when asked “why do you clean your teeth”, would answer “because i want them to be clean”, “Why”, “because I’m hygienic and i want them to look nice”, “why”, “because if they look nice other people will notice and i want that”, “why”, “because i want to look attractive to other people”, “why”, “so that i can find a partner i guess”. THERE is the root cause, they want to find a partner. People with LLI (at least like my own LLI) are always automatically asking and answering those why questions based on our intuition and perception, and because the intuition and perception of a few with LLI are based on far more stimuli (and therefore details noticed) they are extremely accurate. So in the above example if someone with LLI was asked why they think someone cleans their teeth – their intuition and perception going by the person in front of them would usually instantly result in an answer of “because they want to seem physically more appealing to a potential mate” (we would not starve to death if we lost all our teeth in this day and age). Their brain will have already asked and answered many WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY questions. That same automatic process applies to almost everything someone with LLI comes into contact with.
Almost all those who have low latent inhibition are unaware that they are experiencing the world in a totally unique and different way compared to other people. It is generally only through interaction with people who don’t have low latent inhibition and the reactions of those people that brings about the feeling of being ‘unexplainably different’. People may for example laugh at your ideas or the connections that you are able to make or ridicule them (due to lack of understanding on their part), or may look at you as being extremely arrogant or a ‘know it all’. This is because extremely advanced logical connections made by someone with low latent inhibition will often feel like common sense, when in reality those without low latent inhibition wouldn’t even have considered those connections as a possibility. It can also mean that you come across as very intolerant at times (because perfectly reasonable suggestions by people without LLI might just seem stupid to you). There are many different characteristics than can be attributed to the condition; you will find some on the “advantages and disadvantages page” and many, many more on the Facebook awareness group and our forum.
Although low latent inhibition can be an incredible gift it does require a high enough IQ in order for your brain to handle the constant processing of stimuli. Without a sufficient IQ level, having low latent inhibition may lead to various forms of autism. It should also be noted that most autistic people have a lower than normal level of latent inhibition, which is one of the many reasons it is so difficult to confirm an LLI diagnosis. We believe that a lot of cases of LLI are actually missed or misdiagnosed as OCD, ADHD or Asperger’s syndrome but to name a few.
Do I have low latent inhibition?
It is incredibly hard to self-diagnose and we are finding that it is much easier for people to reach a successful diagnosis by meeting others with LLI. There is an exceptionally unique sense of relief when you meet other people who are ‘exactly like you’, your whole perspective on life and living with low latent inhibition will change and hopefully become more comfortable. For those out there with LLI, chances are that most of the difficulties you have faced or have yet to face have been experienced by others with the condition too. A lot of the relief we have witnessed by people who come to the Facebook group stems from knowing why they have felt different, that they are not alone and that there are others like them who are there to help.
We also believe that it is important to acknowledge that there are probably thousands of people if not more who have a lower than usual latent inhibition and that it’s not as rare as people may think. The very rare side to LLI is possessing true creative genius, or not suffering from autism as well as having LLI. Almost all autistic people may indeed have LLI, but that doesn’t mean their brains can handle having it, or that they can utilise it to its full effect. It’s extremely rare to have LLI and be able to use it in the incredibly unique ways in which its benefits can be used throughout life. It’s even more unlikely to have high IQ (over 130), and LLI, no autism and have manageable anxiety levels.
We would also like to stress that LLI is not one specific trait or characteristic and that it’s different in every case. Many might have a lower than usual latent inhibition but in such a way that they don’t feel many benefits and aren’t creating any masterpieces or aren’t extremely gifted in several areas. It is important to not panic or feel down if you think you have LLI but that it’s not making you a genius or that it only seems to give you trouble, as that is far more usual than having LLI and being classed as a genius. To use an example easier to follow, if LLI is chicken in terms of food recipes, ADHD might be salsa, OCD might be barbecue sauce, Asperger’s syndrome might be salad, and your IQ level might be the seasoning. There are obviously many other combinations or other ‘recipes’ you could make, but only a rare few would achieve the ultimate true taste that you’d want.
There are currently no official diagnostic tests for low latent inhibition, and no scale in terms of just how low ones latent inhibition might be. Both of those are things that we are currently working to address and we will be publishing our finds as we continue to delve into the area. We are also researching the work of Carl Jung, Katharine C Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers with regards to personality types, as we wish look into just how different personality types can characterise low latent inhibition.
There are many different interpretations of low latent inhibition out there; some written by those who don’t have it themselves, some copied from an original source and pasted throughout the internet and some that we and I myself cannot relate to. I decided to write the above in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible and to try and clarify exactly what LLI is. Here on the resource and discovery centre you will come across several different descriptions of low latent inhibition, all given by people who live with it and have spent years trying to understand and manage it.
There will be much more information coming soon in the forums, and we would also encourage you to join the low latent inhibition awareness group on Facebook, the official low latent inhibition community Facebook page, or to follow us on twitter. If you wish to meet people with low latent inhibition or you wish to talk to us, please do so. We are here to offer our help and support in as many ways as we can.
We look forward to meeting you in the forums.