Cerebral Hemisphere Dominance and ESP Performance in the Autoganzfeld

By Alexander, Cheryl H.; Broughton, Richard S. | The Journal of Parapsychology, December 2001 | Go to article overview

Cerebral Hemisphere Dominance and ESP Performance in the Autoganzfeld


Alexander, Cheryl H., Broughton, Richard S., The Journal of Parapsychology


ABSTRACT: The right cerebral hemisphere is often associated with psi abilities, yet there is no substantial evidence to support this claim. Therefore, this study (CLI-Ganzfeld) was designed to examine if a relationship between cerebral hemisphere dominance and ESP performance exists. 50 selected participants were tested for cerebral hemisphere dominance and ESP performance as measured by the Cognitive Laterality Battery (CLB) and the autoganzfeld, respectively. The relationship between ESP scores and personality factors (Myers--Briggs Type Indicator preference scores), geomagnetism, local sidereal time, sender-receiver pairings, and target type was also examined. The selected participants produced a hit rate of 36% (z = 1.60, p = .055) in the autoganzfeld. Although this scoring rate falls just short of statistical significance, the effect size ([pi] = .63) is in the upper part of previously predicted ranges. Participants categorized as right-cerebral hemisphere dominant scored fewer direct hits in the autogan zfeld than those categorized as left-cerebral hemisphere dominant, but the difference between the 2 scoring rates is not significant. It is concluded that hemisphere dominance, specifically right-hemisphere dominance as measured by the CLB, is not an important factor associated with psi hitting by selected participants in the autoganzfeld.

Most process-oriented parapsychological research has focused on examining the relationship between personality variables and ESP, with little research examining the relationship between the human brain and psi, specifically brain hemisphere differences and ESP. However, because human experiences are mediated by the brain, and psychic phenomena belong to a class of human experiences, then a vital process-oriented question is: Does a relationship exist between psi phenomena and certain areas or a particular hemisphere of the human brain?

In the small body of parapsychological literature that has examined this question, most of the studies have explored how functional differences of the cerebral hemispheres might interact with psi abilities. Because most experimental ESP and a large proportion of spontaneous cases tend to be visual in nature (Broughton, 1977b), these studies have focused on the role of the right hemisphere, because the right hemisphere is associated with visuospatial abilities and processing of holistic, nonverbal information (Koib & Whishaw, 1996).

In the 1970s, studies examining brain hemisphere differences and psi were conducted by a few researchers who used a similar experimental methodology: unselected participants took part in a forced-choice ESP task designed to activate one hemisphere while they simultaneously participated in a distracting task that would engage the other hemisphere (Broughton, 1976, 1977a; Maher, Peratsakis, & Schmeidler, 1979; Maher & Schmeidler, 1977). Within the last decade, several studies examining brain function and psi have been conducted by Don, McDonough, and Warren (see especially McDonough, Don, & Warren, 1994).

The results of these studies and others have not provided unequivocal evidence of right-hemisphere superiority (see Broughton, 1977b, for a review of the earlier studies). Yet, the idea that the right hemisphere is the area of the brain associated with psi abilities is still a commonly held notion. Therefore, more research is needed to help clarify the role the right hemisphere may play in the production of psi phenomena. This study, CL1-Ganzfeld, was designed with this aim in mind--to examine if a relationship between cerebral hemisphere dominance and ESP performance exists.

To expand on the current body of knowledge in this area, this study incorporates a new approach and methodology to explore the question of interest. Instead of trying to induce hemisphere activation during a psi task as was done in prior experiments, the Cognitive Laterality Battery (CLB), a battery of neuropsychological tests developed over many years by Harold W. …

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