Thursday, 26 June 2014 08:53

Presentiment in Mainstream Science?

Two recent publications in mainstream journals may have found and reported on something that those in the parapsychology field - Presentiment - an intuitive feeling about the future, especially one of foreboding. Parapsychological researchers have been doing studies on this phenomenon for many years. The studies showed the presentiment effect in skin conductance, heart rate, EEG measures and fMRI.

Here are the references to the two most recent studies:

 

Spontaneous Neural Fluctuations Predict Decisions to Attend

Jesse J. Bengson, Todd A. Kelley, Xiaoke Zhang, Jane-Ling Wang, and George R. Mangun

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, , Vol. 0, No. 0 , Pages 1-7
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00650)

Ongoing variability in neural signaling is an intrinsic property of the brain. Often this variability is considered to be noise and ignored. However, an alternative view is that this variability is fundamental to perception and cognition and may be particularly important in decision-making. Here, we show that a momentary measure of occipital alpha-band power (8–13 Hz) predicts choices about where human participants will focus spatial attention on a trial-by-trial basis. This finding provides evidence for a mechanistic account of decision-making by demonstrating that ongoing neural activity biases voluntary decisions about where to attend within a given moment.

 

Spontaneous fluctuations in neural responses to heartbeats predict visual detection

Hyeong-Dong Park,1, Stéphanie Correia,1, Antoine Ducorps2, & Catherine Tallon-Baudry1,

Nature NeuroscienceVolume: 17,Pages:612–618Year published: (2014)DOI:doi:10.1038/nn.3671 Received 18 November 2013 Accepted 05 February 2014 Published online 09 March 2014

Spontaneous fluctuations of ongoing neural activity substantially affect sensory and cognitive performance. Because bodily signals are constantly relayed up to the neocortex, neural responses to bodily signals are likely to shape ongoing activity. Here, using magnetoencephalography, we show that in humans, neural events locked to heartbeats before stimulus onset predict the detection of a faint visual grating in the posterior right inferior parietal lobule and the ventral anterior cingulate cortex, two regions that have multiple functional correlates and that belong to the same resting-state network. Neither fluctuations in measured bodily parameters nor overall cortical excitability could account for this finding. Neural events locked to heartbeats therefore shape visual conscious experience, potentially by contributing to the neural maps of the organism that might underlie subjectivity. Beyond conscious vision, our results show that neural events locked to a basic physiological input such as heartbeats underlie behaviorally relevant differential activation in multifunctional cortical areas.

Here is a list of publications for the parapsychological studies from Dean Radin's website (http://www.deanradin.com/evidence/evidence.htm):

Spottiswoode & May (2003). Skin Conductance Prestimulus Response: Analyses, Artifacts and a Pilot Study

Radin (2004).  Electrodermal presentiments of future emotions. 

McCraty et al (2004). Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: Part 1. The Surprising Role of the Heart

McCraty et al (2004). Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: Part 2. A System-Wide Process?

Radin & Borges (2009). Intuition through time: What does the seer see?

Radin et al (2011). Electrocortical activity prior to unpredictable stimuli in meditators and non-meditators.

Radin (2011). Predicting the Unpredictable: 75 Years of Experimental Evidence

Tressoldi et al (2011). Let Your Eyes Predict : Prediction Accuracy of Pupillary Responses to Random Alerting and Neutral Sounds

Mossbridge et al (2012). Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: a meta-analysis

You can also find a nice summary of the presentiment experiments in:

Radin, D. (2006). Entangled Minds - Extra Sesnory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. Paraview and Pocket Books, New York, NY.

Radin, D. (1997). The Conscious Universe - The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena. HarperCollins, New York, NY.

Thursday, 26 June 2014 08:53

Presentiment in Mainstream Science?

Two recent publications in mainstream journals may have found and reported on something that those in the parapsychology field - Presentiment - an intuitive feeling about the future, especially one of foreboding. Parapsychological researchers have been doing studies on this phenomenon for many years. The studies showed the presentiment effect in skin conductance, heart rate, EEG measures and fMRI.

Here are the references to the two most recent studies:

 

Spontaneous Neural Fluctuations Predict Decisions to Attend

Jesse J. Bengson, Todd A. Kelley, Xiaoke Zhang, Jane-Ling Wang, and George R. Mangun

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, , Vol. 0, No. 0 , Pages 1-7
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00650)

Ongoing variability in neural signaling is an intrinsic property of the brain. Often this variability is considered to be noise and ignored. However, an alternative view is that this variability is fundamental to perception and cognition and may be particularly important in decision-making. Here, we show that a momentary measure of occipital alpha-band power (8–13 Hz) predicts choices about where human participants will focus spatial attention on a trial-by-trial basis. This finding provides evidence for a mechanistic account of decision-making by demonstrating that ongoing neural activity biases voluntary decisions about where to attend within a given moment.

 

Spontaneous fluctuations in neural responses to heartbeats predict visual detection

Hyeong-Dong Park,1, Stéphanie Correia,1, Antoine Ducorps2, & Catherine Tallon-Baudry1,

Nature NeuroscienceVolume: 17,Pages:612–618Year published: (2014)DOI:doi:10.1038/nn.3671 Received 18 November 2013 Accepted 05 February 2014 Published online 09 March 2014

Spontaneous fluctuations of ongoing neural activity substantially affect sensory and cognitive performance. Because bodily signals are constantly relayed up to the neocortex, neural responses to bodily signals are likely to shape ongoing activity. Here, using magnetoencephalography, we show that in humans, neural events locked to heartbeats before stimulus onset predict the detection of a faint visual grating in the posterior right inferior parietal lobule and the ventral anterior cingulate cortex, two regions that have multiple functional correlates and that belong to the same resting-state network. Neither fluctuations in measured bodily parameters nor overall cortical excitability could account for this finding. Neural events locked to heartbeats therefore shape visual conscious experience, potentially by contributing to the neural maps of the organism that might underlie subjectivity. Beyond conscious vision, our results show that neural events locked to a basic physiological input such as heartbeats underlie behaviorally relevant differential activation in multifunctional cortical areas.

Here is a list of publications for the parapsychological studies from Dean Radin's website (http://www.deanradin.com/evidence/evidence.htm):

Spottiswoode & May (2003). Skin Conductance Prestimulus Response: Analyses, Artifacts and a Pilot Study

Radin (2004).  Electrodermal presentiments of future emotions. 

McCraty et al (2004). Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: Part 1. The Surprising Role of the Heart

McCraty et al (2004). Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: Part 2. A System-Wide Process?

Radin & Borges (2009). Intuition through time: What does the seer see?

Radin et al (2011). Electrocortical activity prior to unpredictable stimuli in meditators and non-meditators.

Radin (2011). Predicting the Unpredictable: 75 Years of Experimental Evidence

Tressoldi et al (2011). Let Your Eyes Predict : Prediction Accuracy of Pupillary Responses to Random Alerting and Neutral Sounds

Mossbridge et al (2012). Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: a meta-analysis

You can also find a nice summary of the presentiment experiments in:

Radin, D. (2006). Entangled Minds - Extra Sesnory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. Paraview and Pocket Books, New York, NY.

Radin, D. (1997). The Conscious Universe - The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena. HarperCollins, New York, NY.

Does psi exist? Is there evidence to support the notion of precognition? Can we see into the future? These are some the questions that parapsychologists have been asking and researching for over 130 years.

The last four years have seen a renewed interest in the field and a renewed debate due to the publication of a precognition experiment in a major widely respected research journal.

The following is a recap of the studies and meta-analyses that have been conducted and published since 2011.

In 2011 Daryl Bem published the following article, “Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect.” This article described nine studies with over 1,000 participants in the area of anomalous retroactive influence (i.e.: precognition). The experiments were simple, participants were from the general population, there was no specialized instrumentation, each session took less than 30 minutes and the statistical analysis was nothing more than a t-test.

All but one of the studies obtained statistically significant results. The overall results were Stouffer’s Z=6.66; p=1.34x10-11; mean effect size d=0.22. p values less than 0.01 or 0.05 are typical for rejecting the null hypothesis of an experiment. Therefore, this result would indicate a very strong presumption against the null hypothesis or another way to say it - strong evidence for precognition [1].

This study was immediately presented by parapsychologists and believers of evidence of psi. Other researchers and skeptics criticized the study methodology, analysis and interpretation [2, 3]. Bem later replied and defended his study and data [4]. Other scientists attempted to replicate some of Bem’s work, but failed [5-7]. The debate continued and a registry was created to track the attempts to replicate Bem’s experiments [8].

Then in 2012, a meta-analysis was done covering 26 experiments from 1978 to 2010. The overall results were Z= 6.9 ;p < 2.7 × 10-12; and mean Effect Size of 0.21 [9]. This data would again lean in favor of psi.

Now, in 2014, Bem et. al. [10] have submitted a meta-analysis of 90 experiments dealing with precognition (or as the title of the paper prefers to say, “Anomalous Anticipation of Random Future Events”). The overall results of this analysis were: a Hedges’ g of 0.09 (another way to express effect size), Z= 6.33; p = 1.2 × 10-10.

So, where does this leave us? Some studies showed positive results, while others gave negative results. The meta-analyses make a strong case for something anomalous occurring in these studies and give credence to precognition. No matter what the final decision is on precognition and psi phenomena, it is encouraging to see a data based debate is occurring and the scientific method is being applied to find the answers!

References

1. Bem, D. (2011). Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences of Cognition and Affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 100 (3), 407-425.

2. Alcock, J. (2011). Back From the Future: Parapsychology and the Bem Affair. http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/back_from_the_future

3. Wagenmakers, E., Wetzels, R., Borsboom, D., & van der Maas, H. (2011). Why psychologists must change the way they analyze their data: the case of psi: comment on Bem (2011). Journal of personality and social psychology 100 (3): 426–32.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)

4. Bem, D., Utts J, & Johnson, W. (2011). Must psychologists change the way they analyze their data? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 101 (4): 716–719.

5. Ritchie, S., Wiseman, R., French, C.., & Gilbert, S. (2012). Failing the Future: Three Unsuccessful Attempts to Replicate Bem's 'Retroactive Facilitation of Recall' Effect. In Gilbert, Sam. PLoS ONE 7 (3): e33423.

6. Frazier, K. (2013). Failure to Replicate Results of Bem Parapsychology Experiments Published by Same Journal. Failure to Replicate Results of Bem Parapsychology Experiments Published by Same Journal. csicop.org. Vol. 37(2). Retrieved 13 May 2014. Available at http://www.csicop.org/si/show/failure_to_replicate_results_of_bem_parapsychology_experiments_published_by

7. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2001721

8. http://www.richardwiseman.com/BemReplications.shtml

9. Mossbridge, J., Tressoldi, P. & Utts, J. (2012). Predictive Physiological Anticipation Preceding Seemingly Unpredictable Stimuli: A Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology. 3 (390), 1-18.

10. Bem, D., Tressoldi, P., Rabeyron, T., & Duggan, M. (2014). Feeling the Future: A Meta-Analysis of 90 Experiments on the Anomalous Anticipation of Random Future Events (April 11, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2423692 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2423692