Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Training Anomalous Cognition in a Motor Task with Subliminal Auditory Feedback/ Entrainer la Cognition Anomale Dans Une Tache Motrice Avec Un Feedback Auditif Subliminal/ Zum Training Anomaler Kognition Bei Einer Motorischen Aufgabe Mit Subliminalem Auditivem Feedback/ Entrenamiento De Cognicion Anomala En Una Tarea Motora Con Retroalimentacion Auditiva Subliminal

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Training Anomalous Cognition in a Motor Task with Subliminal Auditory Feedback/ Entrainer la Cognition Anomale Dans Une Tache Motrice Avec Un Feedback Auditif Subliminal/ Zum Training Anomaler Kognition Bei Einer Motorischen Aufgabe Mit Subliminalem Auditivem Feedback/ Entrenamiento De Cognicion Anomala En Una Tarea Motora Con Retroalimentacion Auditiva Subliminal

Article excerpt

The general hypothesis tested in the overall research program is that psi is facilitated by dissociated states of consciousness and that the most dissociated form of psi expression is motor automatism, such as automatic writing and dowsing, where conscious cognitive processing is minimized. Motor automatisms are similar if not identical to what nowadays is referred to as psychomotor behavior, but I will continue to use the parapsychological term.

The first experiment to test for anomalous cognition (AC) using motor automatisms was by Brugmans (1922), who had a special participant (P) point to a square with a letter-number on a grid while blindfolded, with the hope that he would point to the randomly selected target for the trial. Highly significant results were obtained, but the randomization method was poor. One of the card-guessing methods used in J. B. Rhine's famous card-guessing experiments was "screen-touch matching," in which P pointed to one of five "key cards" representing the five Zener cards symbols. This technique was used in the prominent and controversial Pratt-Wood ruff experiment (Pratt & Woodruff, 1939). In the 1990s, Palmer conducted a series of six experiments in which the responses were eye fixations on one of a matrix of symbols flashed on a screen for 150 ms (Palmer, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996; Palmer & Johnson, 1991) . The AC task or indvidual trials were preceded by subliminal presentations of pictures or words that were usually emotionally evocative. Results were inconsistent and significance spotty, but when overall significant results were obtained in the experimental subliminal conditions, they were either tight variance or AC-missing.

The most relevent studies to the current endeavor were modeled on the Ouija board. Sargent (1977) reported two experimental series in which Ps played with a Ouija board mostly unaware that an ESP test was involved. The characters on the board had been arbitrarily divided into odd and even categories, the response sequences being compared to random sequences of binary digits. In both series, below-chance scoring was obtained when the sequences of characters from the board were "structured" (e.g., meaningful words) and above chance when they were unstructured, with the difference being statistically significant each time.

Palmer (2011) appealed to the Ouija board concept in a free-response AC experiment, substituting an "alphabet board" to avoid the occult connotations of the Ouija board. Ps were instructed to repeatedly move a pointer randomly around the board until they felt the impulse to stop on a particular letter, at which time they were to record the letter on a notepad. The targets were one-syllable homographs divided into 20 sets of 5 each. At the end of the session, Ps were asked to rate the corresponence of each homograph in the target set to the letters they stopped on, as well as any imagery they experienced during the session. The differences between the ratings of the target and control words were converted to z-scores. The main finding was highly signifcant hitting among a subgroup of Ps who claimed they felt their hand being moved by an outside force 1-40% of the time during the session.

In a follow-up experiment (Palmer, 2017), 80 volunteers completed the Dissociative Processes Scale (DPS). A Ouija board analog was created consisting of a 16-square grid divided into 4 quadrants with each square in the quadrant numbered 1 to 4. P could get a hit on square (P = 1/16), quadrant (P = 1/4), or number (P = 1/4). For each of 36 trials one square was randomly selected as the target. Ps indicated their response by stopping on a square for 1 s. To lay the groundwork for dissociation, the task was preceded by a progressive relaxation exercise, followed by suggestions for dissociation and success in the task. The independent variables in the 2x2 factorial design were the hand used to move the pen and one of two methods to facilitate dissociation by getting the conscious mind "out of the way" during the task--(a) keep the eyes closed and blank the conscious mind; (b) distract the conscious mind by reading quotations on a computer screen. …

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