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Modal Attention Filtering

There is less filtering of visual elements in this speech than in Kennedy’s speech. This is to contribute to the intermodal redundancy and temporal synchronicity attributes. The people present on site, experience the chill in the air, but the millions, perhaps billions, of others watching do not. So, this raises another interesting attribute of the various audiences. Some experience more modes than others do.

Prior Experience

As mentioned above, the audience is aware of the Cold War tensions that have been going on for the 35-odd years prior to this speech. Tensions were still on the rise at the time of Kennedy’s speech, but they have quieted a bit as of Reagan’s speech because of public concern and political posturing to avoid looking like an aggressor. Many in the audience will have recalled the actual building of the wall and people being shot as they tried to cross the wall in its early years.

The Cold War created much fear in people all over the world such that most any escalation of tension caused genuine concern about life in general. The Cuban Missile Crisis, in fact, had occurred less than 25 years earlier. So, the amygdala for anyone over the age of 35 would be on alert for much of this period, and the hippocampus would have several fearful memories on which to draw.

Intermodal Redundancy and Temporal Synchronicity

The audience sees the President speaking as a wall exists behind him. Indeed, he refers to the wall a few times in the speech, using it very much as a visual aide. It represents much of the history of the Cold War. Between the audio of his speech and the visual images of the President and the wall the audience process several messages—historical and present—about war and peace.

The President is dressed warmly as are most that can be seen; so, the audience that is on site experiences the same cold as the President does. Many of those not present and watching from their warm home likely understand what a chill in the air feels like and can empathize (mirror neurons). So, there is a connection with the audience on site.


I have already mentioned a few elements associated with mirror neurons. Another that I have not yet mentioned is the President’s use of the German language within the speech. Much as Kennedy did during his own speech in Berlin (“I am a Berliner”), Reagan seeks to appeal to the German audience’s mirror neurons by aligning himself with that audience via language. Indeed, language is a primary tool for assimilating with an audience; one who speaks the same language as an audience makes the audience feel more at home—safe.

The appeal to Reward Neurons is that of world peace and further reduction of tensions.

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