You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present. ~Jan Glidewell

Probably one of the biggest breakthroughs in neuroscience tells us that the brain does not always know the difference between the past and the future. When you let your mind wander, it dances between the past and the future. In fact, the cornerstone of all ‘Zen’ Buddhist type wisdom teaches the power of harnessing this wandering, ‘monkey mind’, taming it and bringing it into a disciplined state.

Then there is the confounding aspect that memory is prone to error, making some past memory totally unreliable. The brain can even lose the past and struggle to design the future when a certain area called the hippocampus is disrupted or removed. Memories are not high fidelity recordings of life. They can be manipulated and because they rely on biases, belief and other pre-existing ideas and information, they are often unreliable so much so that false memory witness testimony is now overturned with DNA testing. Even uniformly poor memories are very common in adults recalling their teenage years.

Why on earth would nature design a human body part with the function of creating unreliable recordings of our lives ? Furthermore, why would we dance between what’s been and what’s coming without discernment ? Perhaps most significantly, is there a way to override this seemingly useless function on producing an undefined past and future, and inaccurate recall ?

A brain that cannot define what we did with what we will do, clearly and does not remember things accurately even with all its parts is useless to us, right ? Wrong ! It could become one of the biggest lifesavers for us and probably one of the most profound uneasily solved mysteries of our entire evolution. It’s here also, where you as an advertiser come in.

Neuroscientists say that because we can switch between time, we can piece together bits and pieces to relive the past and even simulate possible futures. It allows us to trouble shoot and think past obstacles to actually learn from the past and reposition ourselves in the future. Easy to see how now the brain becomes a simulation engine between our ears. With this high design brain engine, we each have the superpower to our success. We can weave together memories of the past together with dreams of the future to create our sense of identity.

As an advertiser think about what kind of future you are helping people design and what kind of ethics is behind the person you help shape them to become. What kind of past you help observers and potential customers forget and how to structure your advert to make it unforgettable ultimately manipulates or contribute to humanities ultimate evolutionary cause for designing identity. As the same brain network is engaged between past and future, watching your advert your observer witnesses not only what could be while integrating it with h/her past. With your help while watching your design, s/he is designing who s/he wants to become.


  1. The brain does not always distinguish the past and future memory accurately.
  2. Memory is prone to error, so there is also inaccurate recall of past events.
  3. The reason for this is then we can rearrange experience to help create who we are, our sense of identity, and most importantly who we wish to become.
  4. As an advertiser, you have extra power to help create a sense of identity in the viewer, refer to who they can become with your service or product.