Arnaud Delorme - Accuracy and Neural Correlates of Blinded Mediumship Compared to Controls on Image Classification Task

Published by View Parapsychological Association's profile Parapsychological Association on Saturday, April 10, 2021

Arnaud Delorme, PhD, is a CNRS principal investigator in Toulouse, France, a member faculty at the University of California, San Diego, and a research scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He developed the free EEGLAB software for advanced analysis of EEG signals in collaboration with Scott Makeig, which is now among the most used in EEG research worldwide. He was awarded a Brettencourt-Schueller young investigator award and a 10-year anniversary ANT young investigator award for his contributions to EEG research.

In a standard mediumship “reading,” a client (called a “sitter”) asks questions about a friend or relative who has passed away. The medium purports to communicate with the deceased individual and reports any received information to the sitter. Mediums are often eager to provide verifiable information to demonstrate to the sitters that they are indeed communicating with their deceased relative or friend. Proper double and triple blinding experimental protocols offer the opportunity to verify if the information delivered by a medium is accurate. A suitable experimental design also provides the opportunity to measure physiological effects associated with retrieval or accurate information.

In a classification task, participants were asked to look at facial photographs of deceased people and guess the cause of death from three possible choices: “heart attack”, “death by firearm”, or “car accident.” Electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) data were simultaneously collected during the task. The participants were professionals who claimed psychic/medium abilities and controls who claimed no special ability. The facial photographs were a balanced pool of 201 black and white photographs, where the cause of death was known in each case. The participants were naive to the photographs before the experiment.

Participants could categorize the type of death above chance expectation and there were differences in EEG in how mediums and controls processed face photographs. These results need to be investigated in a larger and more diverse pool of participants. The anonymized behavioural and EEG data are available to the scientific community (DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3600490). The images, presentation and data analysis scripts used in our study are available upon request. To help minimize performance anxiety, future studies will investigate mediums under conditions that more closely match what they do as part of their professional work.

Presented at the online PA Symposium “Advances in Mediumship Research” on February 27,2021; program chaired by Helané Wahbeh, Director of Research at IONS. Download the Abstract at https://parapsych.org/articles/66/537/abstracts_advances_in_mediumship.aspx
 

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