The Wizard of Ads Brain Map - Wernicke and Broca

Chapter 21, page 50, Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads by Roy H. Williams

Broca: The theater critic of the imagination, the part of the human mind that anticipates and ignores the predictable.


Visual images  are processed in the brain’s visual cortex, located at the base of the skull, just above your spine. Immediately above the visual cortex, at the back of the cranium, is the visual association area, where visual memories are stored. (Stay with me, this gets interesting)

Sound is processed in the auditory cortex, right above your ear. The memory of sound is stored in the auditory association area, which occupies most of the side of your head. It’s where words and sounds are stored.

Strategically located where auditory association meets visual association is Wernicke’s area, the spot where objects are named. When you imagine a golden, four-legged, African animal with irregular brown spots and an extremely long neck, it’s Wernicke that attaches the word “giraffe” to the image. When you think of a famous landmark in Paris, a graceful metal structure known throughout the world, it’s Wernike that whispers, “Eiffel Tower, stupid.” Wernicke is the king of nouns.

At the other end of auditory association lies Broca’s area, a powerful extension of auditory association into the motor association cortex. The motor association cortex is the center of all physical action and Broca’s area the center of action words. Broca energetically generated verbs, enthusiastically constructs sentences, and anxiously anticipates what others are about to say.

The object of advertising is to influence the prefrontal cortex - the seat of emotion, planning, and judgment, located just across the motor association cortex, right behind your forehead. And the shortest leap to it is from Broca’s area.

Vision and vision words happen at the back of the skull, action and action words happen at the front, in Broca’s area, right next to the prefrontal cortex. The ear is right in the middle, the key to everything.

Describe what you want the listener to see, and she will see it. Cause her to imagine taking the action you’d like her to take, and you’ve brought her much closer to taking the action. The secret of persuasion lies in our skillful use of action words. The magic of advertising is in the verbs.

Just ask Broca.

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A follow up story…  Science Proves the Wizard Right Again

by Roy H. Williams 

Okay, let’s be clear about this: I’m proud of myself today. So proud, in fact, that you might want to skip reading this memo because all I’m going to do is strut. It could become sickening. Seriously.

Frankly, I can’t believe you’re still reading after a warning like that.

First it was Dr. Burkhardt Maess of the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience who proved my longstanding assertion that Broca’s area of the brain anticipates the predictable. (This is important to you and me because Predictability is the killer of attention. If we want to gain and hold human attention, we must know how to stimulate Broca.)

Now neurologist Friedemann Pulvermuller of the Medical Research Council in Cambridge has shocked the scientific community by announcing that Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area gather sensory data from other brain areas and then compile it into complex mental images. According to the article, “These results challenge the theory that isolated, language-specific brain structures discern word meanings. Instead, they propose word understanding hinges on activation of interconnected brain areas that pull together knowledge about that particular word and its associated actions and sensations.”

Anyone who has attended one of my public seminars since 1996 has heard me explain this whole “pulling sensory data from associated areas” process in detail. I wrote about it in a series of Monday Morning Memos in 2001 and 2002 and then finally laid the matter to rest with the April, 2003 publication of the audiobook with transcript, Thought Particles: Binary Code of the Mind. Its description says, “This limited-edition insight contains one audio CD and one illustration CD unveiling the Wizard’s theories on how thoughts are assembled in the mind from stored sensory associations.”

Why does any of this matter? Because the purpose of Wizard Academy is to forward the expansion of the communication arts. Our goal is to teach you how to more effectively change:

1. what people think, and

2. how they feel.

To do this, we must study how thoughts and feelings are gathered, stored, processed, and retrieved from memory.

Last week I wrote, “Wizard Academy is a school of the communication arts. We study all the languages of the mind, including shape, color, position, ratio, pitch, key, tempo, contour, musical interval, rhythm and architecture. But words have been the highest form of communication since Genesis chapter one, when God spoke a universe into existence and then created us in his image.”

But that is not to say that words are the only language of the mind. Wizard Academy is in the process of expanding its curricula to include investigations into the languages of:

1. music

2. color

3. shapes and symbols

4. ritual (as the language of a sports or business tribe)

5. phonemes

6. schema and worldview (as boundaries to understanding)

7. meter

8. mathematics (as a language of business, with emphasis on the ratios mentioned on pages 144-145 of Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads.

If you’re an academy grad and would like to be considered as a possible instructor for one of these or another new curricula, please let know of your field of interest and your current depth of research into it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to march around the room and sing the Poky Little Puppy song at the top of my lungs (pages 192-193 of Secret Formulas.)

Roy H. Williams

Special thanks to Craig Arthur, managing partner of Wizard of Ads – Australia, for bringing to our attention the discovery of Dr. Pulvermuller.

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