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. 2013 Nov 20;4:834.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00834. eCollection 2013.

Electrocortical Activity Associated With Subjective Communication With the Deceased

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Free PMC article

Electrocortical Activity Associated With Subjective Communication With the Deceased

Arnaud Delorme et al. Front Psychol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

During advanced meditative practices, unusual perceptions can arise including the sense of receiving information about unknown people who are deceased. As with meditation, this mental state of communication with the deceased involves calming mental chatter and becoming receptive to subtle feelings and sensations. Psychometric and brain electrophysiology data were collected from six individuals who had previously reported accurate information about deceased individuals under double-blind conditions. Each experimental participant performed two tasks with eyes closed. In the first task, the participant was given only the first name of a deceased person and asked 25 questions. After each question, the participant was asked to silently perceive information relevant to the question for 20 s and then respond verbally. Responses were transcribed and then scored for accuracy by individuals who knew the deceased persons. Of the four mediums whose accuracy could be evaluated, three scored significantly above chance (p < 0.03). The correlation between accuracy and brain activity during the 20 s of silent mediumship communication was significant in frontal theta for one participant (p < 0.01). In the second task, participants were asked to experience four mental states for 1 min each: (1) thinking about a known living person, (2) listening to a biography, (3) thinking about an imaginary person, and (4) interacting mentally with a known deceased person. Each mental state was repeated three times. Statistically significant differences at p < 0.01 after correction for multiple comparisons in electrocortical activity among the four conditions were obtained in all six participants, primarily in the gamma band (which might be due to muscular activity). These differences suggest that the impression of communicating with the deceased may be a distinct mental state distinct from ordinary thinking or imagination.

Keywords: EEG; intuition; mediums; mental states; transcendence.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Experimental protocols. (A) Protocol for Experiment 1. After an optional meditation period of 1 min, the medium was given the first name of a deceased person with which to connect. All mediums claimed they connected with the deceased person within 1 min. Experimenter JB then asked the medium 25 questions. Each question was followed by 20 s of silence to provide for movement-free EEG data. (B) Protocol for Experiment 2. Mediums were asked to experience four different mental states: M, mediumship communication with a deceased person known to him/her; R, recollecting details about a living person known to him/her; P, perceiving biographical information about a deceased person read aloud by an experimenter; and F, fabricating a person and thinking about that imagined person. Each session lasted for 1 min and was followed by 15 s of rest. Each block of four sessions was repeated three times. The order of sessions was randomized within each block for each subject although a given state was never requested twice in a row. The figure depicts one possible order of experimental conditions.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Spectral differences in the theta frequency band for medium M1. (A) Scalp topography of theta power during the mental experiences of information later rated as low (<50%) or high (≥50%) in accuracy [the unit being 10*log10(μV2)]. The large dots on the differential scalp topography indicate significance at p < 0.005. (B) When splitting the data into three quantiles of increasing accuracy (i.e., 0–34; 40–80; and 100% accuracy), theta power for the intermediate accuracy level fell in between the high and low accuracy levels. Error bars indicate 95% confidence intervals.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Summary figures depicting differences between mental states in the high gamma frequency band (75–110 Hz). The scalp topography image in the left upper corner indicates the average gamma power for all mental states and all subjects [the unit being 10*log10(μV2)]. Scalp topographies for each mental state indicate deviation from the average scalp power (same units). In between each pair of mental states A and B, a plot indicates the number of significant participants for each electrode (p < 0.01 after cluster correction for multiple comparisons). The size of the dot represents the number of participants for which a given electrode is significant [from n = 0 (ns) to n = 5; significance in all six participants was never attained]. The pie chart within each dot represents the proportion of participants who demonstrated significant differences in one direction (red corresponds to A > B and blue corresponds to A < B). The direction of the comparison is indicated by a directional dashed line from A to B. For example, between the Mediumship Communication mental state and the Perception mental state, most electrodes are significant for three or four participants and the color (red) indicates that gamma power is of larger amplitude during the Communication mental state compared to the Perception mental state.

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