Investigating Paranormal Phenomena: Functional Brain Imaging of Telepathy

Article excerpt

Byline: Ganesan. Venkatasubramanian, Peruvumba. Jayakumar, Hongasandra. Nagendra, Dindagur. Nagaraja, R. Deeptha, Bangalore. Gangadhar

Aim: "Telepathy" is defined as "the communication of impressions of any kind from one mind to another, independently of the recognized channels of sense". Meta-analyses of "ganzfield" studies as well as "card-guessing task" studies provide compelling evidence for the existence of telepathic phenomena. The aim of this study was to elucidate the neural basis of telepathy by examining an individual with this special ability. Materials and Methods: Using functional MRI, we examined a famous "mentalist" while he was performing a telepathic task in a 1.5 T scanner. A matched control subject without this special ability was also examined under similar conditions. Results: The mentalist demonstrated significant activation of the right parahippocampal gyrus after successful performance of a telepathic task. The comparison subject, who did not show any telepathic ability, demonstrated significant activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus. Conclusions: The findings of this study are suggestive of a limbic basis for telepathy and warrant further systematic research.

Introduction

"Telepathy" is defined as "the communication of impressions of any kind from one mind to another, independently of the recognized channels of sense".[sup] [1] With the help of various rigorous paradigms over the last 70 years, systematic research has lent support to the reality of telepathy.[sup] [2] Meta-analyses of "ganzfield" studies[sup] [3] as well as "card-guessing task"[sup] [4] studies provide compelling evidence for the existence of telepathy. This mysterious phenomenon has implications not only in the cognitive sciences but also in the biological and healing sciences.[sup] [2] It has long been assumed that conscious intention has the capacity to affect living systems across a distance. Intercessory prayers, healing energy, and similar other methods have long been a part of medicine.[sup] [2] Hence, analyzing the underpinnings of telepathy might potentially help in understanding the "distant-healing" phenomena also.

Examining people with extraordinary capabilities involving paranormal phenomena might help in a better understanding of these puzzling entities.[sup] [5] Previous such studies examining people with "special talents"[sup] [5],[6] yielded significant insights. Similarly, studies have been conducted on people experiencing paranormal phenomena. A functional MRI study on "distant intentionality" (defined as sending thoughts at a distance) examined the brain activation pattern in a recipient of thoughts from healers who espoused some form for connecting or healing at a distance. The recipient demonstrated significant brain activations in the anterior and middle cingulate areas, precuneus, and the frontal regions.[sup] [7] Previous studies[sup] [8],[9] examining subjects with telepathic ability suggested an association of paranormal phenomena with the right cerebral hemisphere. It has been reported that correlated neural signals may be detected by fMRI in the brains of subjects who are physically and sensorily isolated from each other.[sup] [10] In light of these previous studies, we aimed to examine the functional neuroanatomical correlates of telepathy in Mr. Gerard Senehi, an "expert with telepathic ability (mentalist)" using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

Materials and Methods

Subjects Mr. Gerard Senehi [Mr. GS] (aged 46 years) is well known for his abilities to perform various paranormal tasks such as telekinesis, mind reading, and telepathy (http://www.experimentalist.com). Mr. JS, the comparison subject, is a 43 -year-old male, who was aware of various paranormal phenomena including telepathy, but did not have any paranormal abilities to the best of his knowledge. Both the subjects were right-handed[sup] [11] and possessed Master's Degrees. …