DynaPsych Contents

Psi Research and the Human Brain's "Reserve Capacities"

Stanley Krippner, PhD, Saybrook Institute

ABSTRACT: Parapsychology studies reports of anomalous behaviors and experiences, i.e. reported "psi." Many parapsychologists have attempted to find neurological correlates or potential mechanisms for those reported events that they believe stand outside of known explanatory mechanisms. This line of study may play an important role in determining what "reserve capacities" characterize the brain and how they might improve the human condition.


Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and experience; parapsychology (or "psi research") studies those reported anomalies of behavior and experience that appear to stand outside of the currently known explanatory mechanisms which account for organism- environment and organism- organism information and influence flow. Over the past century, considerable research has been conducted in an attempt to understand these reports and to determine whether they are worthy of continued attention and investigation (Rao & Palmer, 1987). The Parapsychological Association (1985), an international body of scientific investigators in the field, has emphasized that "a commitment to the study of psi phenomena does not require assuming the reality of 'non- ordinary' factors or processes." Despite this cautionary statement, parapsychology has been referred to by some critics as a "pseudoscience" (Stanovich,1985) or a "deviant science" (Ben- Yehuda, 1985).

To understand this criticism, it must be recalled that Western science emerged from philosophy and originally proclaimed itself as the search for the understanding of nature. As this quest became more disciplined, greater demands were placed upon scientific undertakings. Today there is a demand by some critics that psi research produce "replicable" psi experiments and "battle- tested" results before it can be considered a legitimate science. At one level of investigation, there already are "replications" and "battle- tested" results, specifically the finding that about 50% of an unselected group will report having had a "psychic experience," supposedly involving those psi phenomena that have been given such labels as "telepathy," "clairvoyance," "precognition," and "psychokinesis." This percentage may vary from one culture, age group, and educational level to the next, but it has been repeated, in one study after another, for the last several decades.

These experiences have been ignored or ridiculed by most behavioral and social scientists despite the recent findings indicating that this type of experience "is not only potentially significant for our personal lives, but that it also serves important functions in our society as a whole" (Neher, 1990). Subjective psi experiences interface with heightened sensitivities, creative imagery, self- regulation of body processes, and increased memory, allowing science an expanded vision of what can be called "reserve human capacities." Therefore, the case for psi research is simply that an understanding of these reported experiences is worthy of significant research efforts.

The Society for Psychical Research, founded in Great Britain in 1882, was the first major organization to attempt to assess psi scientifically, beginning with surveys that would later evolve into controlled experiments. The "Report on the Census of Hallucinations," organized by members of the society, analyzed and categorized some 17,000 responses to the question, "Have you ever...had a vivid impression of seeing, or being touched..., or of hearing a voice; which impression, so far as you could discover, was not due to any external cause?" Affirmative answers were obtained from about one in ten of the respondents, with more visual hallucinations reported than auditory or tactile hallucinations (Sidgwick, Sidgwick, & Johnson, 1894).

Psi Research and Dream Studies

The use of case studies has allowed the examination of accounts described in greater depth than those solicited by surveys and questionnaires. The best known of these collections is that of Louisa E. Rhine (1977); by 1973, her collection of spontaneous cases of alleged psi numbered 12,837. The overall objective of Rhine's studies was to study the basic psi process; for example, she identified the main form in which psi is expressed as hallucinations, intuitions, realistic dreams, and non- realistic dreams (marked by symbolism and fantasy). Ian Stevenson (1970) has presented an intensive study of 35 cases of "telepathic impressions," concluding that they shared the same characteristics as did those collected in earlier decades. For example, "a relationship, not just an individual, is necessary for such experiences to occur."

Contemporary parapsychologists would agree that survey responses, questionnaire responses, and case studies are subject to such confounding variables as coincidence, unconscious inference, sensory leakage, exaggeration after the fact, falsification of memory, and outright fabrication. However, these anecdotal reports, especially those collected by Rhine, stimulated Ullman and Krippner (Ullman & Krippner, with Vaughan, 1989) to investigate anomalous dreams in a laboratory setting. Ullman, Krippner, and their associates obtained results suggesting that some subjects could incorporate distant pictorial material (that had been randomly selected once the subjects had gone to bed) into their dreams at statistically significant levels. For example, one subject dreamed about going to Madison Square Garden to buy tickets to a boxing match. On that same night, a psychologist in a distant room had been focusing his attention on a painting of a boxing match.

These experiments were conducted at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, during the 1960s and 1970s. The laboratory's basic research procedure was to fasten electrodes to the head of a subject, take him or her to a soundproof room, then randomly select a sealed, opaque envelope containing an art print. A psychologist would then take the envelope to a distant room, open it, and study the art print while the laboratory subject (in bed and asleep) attempted to incorporate material from the art print into his or her dreams without ever seeing it. Upon completion of an experimental study, outside judges compared the typed dream reports with the total collection of art prints, attempting to identify the print used on the night of each experiment (e.g., Krippner & Ullman, 1970). About two out of three times, these experimental sessions obtained statistically significant results, with odds against chance so great that coincidence was unlikely.

Such prominent dream researchers as David Foulkes (Belvedere & Foulkes, 1971), Gordon Globus (Globus et al., 1968), Calvin Hall (1967), Robert Van de Castle (1971), and Keith Hearne (1987) attempted to repeat these findings. Because the replication rate from these other laboratories was inconsistent, the Maimonides team did not claim to have conclusively demonstrated that communication in dreams can sometimes transcend space and time. However, they did open a promising line of investigation. Years later, Stanley Krippner and Michael Persinger, a Canadian neuroscientist, reviewed the entire body of dream research data from Maimonides Medical Center, selecting the first night that each subject in a telepathy experiment had visited the laboratory. They matched the results of these nights with geomagnetic data, discovering that the subjects' telepathy "hits" tended to be higher during calm nights than during nights marked by electrical storms and high sunspot activity (Persinger & Krippner, 1989).

Persinger (1974) has urged using reported psi phenomena in new and ingenious ways, observing, "Across cultures and throughout history people have been reporting psi- experiences. Let us find out what they are saying....It is by looking at the similarities of the verbal behavior that we may find enough consistencies to understand the factors responsible for the reports (p. 13). Persinger (e.g., Schaut & Persinger, 1985) has examined several collections of spontaneous cases, including the 35 gathered by Stevenson (1970), reporting that they seem to occur most frequently when geomagnetic activity is calmer than the days before or after the experience - - and lower than the month's average activity. This approach can be applied to any collection of cases (e.g., Persinger & Krippner, 1989) where the date of the alleged experience has been recorded. If repeatable, these effects may help to provide an understanding of the mechanisms underlying psi phenomena, and may even indicate a potentially predictable pattern for such events.

Psi Experiences and the Brain

A brain- based model of psi experience was proposed in the 1880s by several of the founders of the British Society for Psychical Research (Gurney, Myers, & Podmore, 1886). They proposed that these experiences were constructed by the brain from its own resources (or what might be called "reserve capacities") once the initiating stimulus (e.g., a randomly selected picture in a laboratory test, a real- life crisis situation involving a loved one) sets the constructive mechanisms in motion. This model is surprisingly congruent with concepts of memory hypothesized a century later. One model holds that memory is "stored" in the brain's cortex, specific memories are evoked by either external stimulation or the lower brain's firing patterns, and the context of the stimuli can access an entire sequence of memories (Teyler & DiScenna, 1984).

Elizabeth Loftus (1980) adds that incoming information enters short- term memory where it can either be forgotten or maintained by rehearsal and successfully transferred to long- term memory. Retrieving information from long- term memory depends upon cues that enable people to check different parts of for the required material. Morton F. Reiser (1990) uses the term "nodal networks" to describe how memories are stored. These networks of mental representations (e.g., images, words) are organized by "affective links" (e.g., emotions, feelings), and often lead into "associative trains" that enable the retrieval of very early life events. During sleep, the pontine brain stem's periodic firing patterns stimulate the upper brain, primarily the visual- motor cortex, resulting in imagery that congeals into a dream (Hobson, 1988). Often, these evoked images contain affect that links them with an important life event from the past through their "associate trains," resulting in a scenario that may be useful in psychotherapy or self- development (Krippner & Dillard, 1988).

Very little work has been done with the physiological basis for the manifestation of psi in dreams. Perhaps the initiating stimulus (e.g., the laboratory picture, the real- life event) influences the pontine area's firing pattern, evoking mental representations in the cortex that produces a "match" that engenders conviction that chance factors were not at work. Perhaps the holographic nature of the brain (Pribram, 1971) enables the dreamer to "reach out" to incorporate the stimulus which is then "matched" with an appropriate memory. In the Maimonides dream experiments, the "matches" were often direct (as in the case of the Madison Square Garden dream). But sometimes they were symbolic, as when the randomly selected picture was a dead gangster in a coffin and the dream focused on a dead rat in a cigar box. And, quite frequently, other memories seemed to confound the psi effect in dreams; the "associate trains" described by Reiser may have led to a waking life experience that "matched" the initiating stimulus but the corresponding images were amalgamated with other material that was unrelated to the laboratory picture.

The research strategies initiated by Persinger eventually may help to answer these questions. For example, he combined two early British surveys of purported telepathy (Gurney, Myers, & Podmore, 1886; Sidgwick, Sidgwick, & Johnson, 1894) with more recent accounts appearing in @I{Fate} magazine (Persinger & Schaut, 1988), all of which included the date of the incident. The spontaneous experiences were more likely to have occurred at times when the environment was calm rather than during times marked by electrical storms and high sunspot activity. These geomagnetic field perturbations have been reported to affect biological systems by other investigators (e.g., Subrahmanyam, Sanker Narayan, & Srinivasan, 1985). Persinger (1989) has proposed two interpretations of the geomagnetic field effect. The first is that psi is a geomagnetic field correlate; solar disturbances and consequent geomagnetic storms affect this correlate. The second is that the geomagnetic field affects brain receptivity to psi, which remains constant. In the latter interpretation, psi is always present in space and time, waiting to be accessed by crisis, emotion, or by optimal laboratory stimulus parameters. Geomagnetic activity may affect the detection capacity of the brain for this information, especially the neural pathways that facilitate the consolidation and conscious access to this information. Without this geomagnetic activity, awareness of the psi stimulus might not be as likely and the brain's "latent reserve capacities" would not be utilized.

Taking this argument one step further, Persinger (1989) points out that deep temporal lobe activity exists in equilibrium with the global geomagnetic condition. When there is a sudden decrease in geomagnetic activity, there appears to be an enhancement of processes that facilitate psi reception, especially telepathy and clairvoyance. Increases in geomagnetic activity may suppress pineal melatonin levels and contribute to reductions of cortical seizure thresholds. Indeed, melatonin is correlated with temporal lobe- related disorders such as depression and seizures. Persinger has postulated that increased geomagnetic activity may contribute to expressive psi, such as spontaneous or laboratory psychokinesis. Some research data (e.g., Braud & Dennis, 1989) support this conjecture and Gertrude R. Schmeidler (1994, p. 216) has proposed that a psychokinesis subject who is more "aroused" (by the geomagnetic activity) would be more effective.

Some parapsychologists specialize in studying purported survival of bodily death, and the apparitions of loved ones reported by the bereaved. Because of melatonin's association with cortical seizures, Persinger hypothesized that bereavement apparitions would be more evident during times of increased geomagnetic activity. Such increases would suppress melatonin levels and contribute to reductions of cortical seizure thresholds, enabling access to cortical memory fragments such as appear in reports of ghosts, phantoms, and other images of dead relatives or loved ones. Persinger's (1988) analysis of over 200 such reports indicated that they tended to occur on days when the geomagnetic activity had increased as compared to the days before and afterwards.

According to Persinger (1989) the stimulation parameters of the human brain's amygdala and hippocampus place them in a unique position to mediate psi experiences. The coherence of endogenous periods of single neurons or groups of neurons within the hippocampus increases the likelihood that they could be "driven" or influenced by external electromagnetic fields of similar pulse or natural frequency. There are also differences in resonance as a function of the sensitivity of the person's brain; the ordinary amygdaloid period is about 4 cycles per second while the comparable period of a person with limbic epilepsy is around 9 cycles per second.

Of particular relevance to psi is the capacity for the hippocampus to show long term potentiation, the first step to memory. A 400 cycles per second electrical stimulation of only 1 second can lead to semipermanent changes in electrical activity and produce observable growth of dendritic spines within 10 minutes. Such quick plasticity indicates that only a few seconds of the appropriate psi- related stimulus could evoke permanent changes in brain microstructures and hence modify memory Once the memory is consolidated it could appear as "real" as memory acquired by more traditional pathways.

Psi and the Temporal Lobes

The two temporal lobes of the brain constitute about 40% of the higher functioning area called the cerebrum; thus, there may be a greater potential for dysfunction or anomalous functioning of the temporal lobes than for other lobes. The temporal lobes are well situated for integrating perceptual stimuli of all kinds as well as for integrating various aspects of such cognitive functions as memory, learning, language, sense of self, in addition to emotional, sexual, and aggressive functions. Because of these capacities, psi experiences could also be integrated in the temporal lobes (Neppe, 1990).

The deep structures of the temporal lobes are the most electrically unstable portions of the human brain, and temporal lobe lability can be modified by such techniques as meditation. The contribution of temporal lobe processes to psi phenomena have two important implications. First, the phenomenological characteristics of psi experiences, especially spontaneous ones, could well be dominated by the functions of the temporal lobes. Such evidence is clearly seen in the propensity for spontaneous psi experiences to involve dreams, waking imagery, and intense affect that attributes the experience with intense personal meaningfulness (Persinger, 1974). Secondly, the electrical lability of the temporal lobes means that many other stimuli could both compete for neural substrates that facilitate psi experiences as well as simulating experiences resembling psi.

For example, no other brain condition stimulates spontaneous psi- like experiences as closely as does limbic temporal lobe epilepsy. If the discharge remains within one lobe and does not propagate to motor regions, no epileptic convulsion occur. In fact, the observer might not realize the person is experiencing an electrical seizure; nevertheless, there are often clear experiential phenomena that are generated even without after- discharges (Persinger, 1989). However, it would be a mistake to assume that psi experiences are a form of limbic epilepsy; for one thing, psi phenomena are frequently reported during normal nighttime dreaming but epilepsy is amplified and abnormal. Furthermore, the trigger for a psi experience is an external event while an internal event evokes an epileptic seizure. Nevertheless, their many similarities provide an opportunity for further study.

Persinger (1989) attempted such an investigation by examining the British collections of spontaneous telepathy and clairvoyance reports as well as the Fate magazine reports,finding that the peak displays of spontaneous psi experiences were reported to have occurred between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. with a secondary peak around 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. These were exactly the hours when temporal lobe seizures were most frequently reported before anticonvulsants were introduced into medicine. However, a further peak occurs at 4:00 p.m. (Persinger & Schaut, 1988); this peak is not congruent with the data on temporal lobe seizures.

Jan Ehrenwald (1975) was an early explorer of possible linkages between purported psi and deficits in brain functioning that might allow an organism to receive psi- related information. William Roll (1977; Lowe & Roll, 1988) has been another pioneer in the investigation of possible connections between epilepsy and psychokinesis. In one survey of 78 students, he found an increased incidence of olfactory or auditory hallucinatory experiences among the 10 people reporting the highest frequency of purported psi experiences. In this regard, Vernon N. Neppe (1990) has noted that patients with apparent temporal lobe dysfunctions often claim vivid psi- related experiences. He has developed the Neppe Temporal Lobe Questionnaire which probes for descriptions of possible temporal lobe symptoms such as auditory hallucinations ("hearing voices"), as well as nonspecific symptoms such as depersonalization. Neppe administered the questionnaire to 6 people who had reported psi- like experiences and 6 others who had not reported these experiences; none of his subjects had major psychiatric histories. The former group had an average of 6.2 temporal lobe symptoms, the latter group had an average of 0.3, and the difference was statistically significant. The association between temporal lobe symptoms and reported psi- like experiences may suggest a state of physiological continuity of anomalous temporal lobe functioning. These brain processes may lay the groundwork for anomalous experiences and the resulting verbal reports. The independent existence of temporal lobe symptoms implies that the verbal reports of presumed psi are not an inevitable consequence of the brain condition. Nor are these reports limited to people with temporal lobe symptoms; Neppe (1990) interviewed 4 spiritualist mediums, analyzing their olfactory imagery, as well as similar olfactory imagery reported by the 6 subjects in his earlier study. A large proportion of these smells were pleasant in nature, and were often described as "perfumed" and "flowery"; pleasant olfactory hallucinations are rarely associated with temporal lobe epilepsy.

Michael Winkelman (1992) studied the ethnographic and phenomenological reports of native shamans' and shamanic healers' altered states of consciousness, finding evidence of temporal lobe discharges. The little data resulting from a direct assessment of this hypothesis detected epilepsy in the Wapogoro tribe of East Africa (Jilek- aall, 1973). Winkelman (1992) also found links between temporal lobe symptoms and reports of spirit "possession" by native mediums. In both groups, there were frequent instances of amnesia, tremors, convulsions, compulsive motor behavior, and other signs that would fall on what Neppe called the "physiological continuity of anomalous temporal lobe functioning."

Psi and Other Brain Areas

In contrast to the temporal lobes, there is little evidence or logic for claiming that an important role is played by other cerebral cortex areas. However, the frontal lobes, as the executive of the cognitive- motor cortex, could logically be associated with psychokinesis. The occipital lobes are likely candidates for apparitions, "visions," and perceptions of so- called "auras" because of their involvement in visual associations. The parietal lobes are involved in visual- spatial distortions such as those that characterize some reports of presumptive psi (Neppe, 1983). As a result of an analysis of members of two families with temporal lobe dysfunction whose members reported psi- like experiences, Neppe suggested that there may be familial predispositions to presumptive psi phenomena (Hurst & Neppe, 1981).

Persinger (1989) laments the paucity of literature on brain asymmetry and psi processes. The right hemisphere of the cerebral cortex is more specialized for detection of the spatial relationship between stimulus configurations and their affective associations rather than the accuracy of detail. Linguistically and analytically, the left hemisphere is more active (Budzynski, 1986), although there are notable exceptions (e.g., many left handed people, native speakers of Japanese and other languages that incorporate sounds resembling those found in nature). A few parapsychological experiments have utilized target material and conditions geared toward activating the left hemisphere, often obtaining statistically significant results (e.g., Braud & Braud, 1977).

Other parapsychological experiments have compared "left hemisphere psi tasks" to "right hemisphere psi tasks," while still others examined hemispheric dominance during psi tests by recording the eye movements of subjects while they made their responses; when the results of these studies attained statistical significance, they favored the right hemisphere (Schmeidler, 1990, pp. 149- 150). In one innovative study, Robert F. Quider (1984) randomly assigned 40 subjects to four conditions: two with "suggestopedic" instructions for relaxation and visualization (one with music, one with no music) and two without those instructions (one with music and one with no music). Psi scores did not show an effect of these instructions, but were significantly higher with music than without music.

This line of investigation might yield worthwhile results in view of the close connection often reported between mental imagery and presumptive psi (George & Krippner, 1984). For example, Sheryl Wilson and T.X. Barber (1982) studied 26 individuals with vivid mental imagery. In comparison with 25 control subjects, the "eidetikers" not only were better hypnotic subjects and engaged in more fantasy both as children and adults, but claimed to have had more clairvoyant, precognitive, and telepathic experiences. In addition, they reported more "out- of- body" experiences, lucid dreams, experiencing of apparitions, seeing "auras," and having mystical visions.

In the meantime, several parapsychological studies have attempted to identify the brain events that accompany psi, primarily "hits" on telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition tests. At first, researchers examined brain waves as identified by EEG technology; the ensuing records show gross activity in a brain area. Three major types of brain waves have been studied: alpha (slow, regular waves typical of relaxed states of casual scanning), beta (rapid, irregular waves found in alert attention), theta (regular waves, slower than alpha, found in deep relaxation or during some types of mental imagery). Once more sensitive EEGs were developed it was possible to study the complex form of a single brain response measured in milliseconds; this is referred to as the "evoked response."

Some relation has been found between psi "hits" and alpha activity (Schmeidler, 1994, p. 147). When evoked response analysis was done with so- called "gifted" subjects, the 100- millisecond component of the evoked response sometimes, but not always, showed a significant response to psi stimuli (Warren, McDonough, & Don, in press; May, Luke, Trask, & Frivold, 1992).

"Postmodern" Science and Psi Research

Parapsychology has pioneered research into several aspects of human behavior and experience that are now a part of mainstream psychology, e.g., hypnosis, multiple personalities, anomalous healing. Other topics investigated by the early societies for psychical research (e.g., lucid dreaming, near- death experiences, out- of- body experiences) are beginning to enter the psychological mainstream and the mechanisms for these phenomena are on their way to becoming understood. Perhaps telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis someday will travel the same road. The prefix "para" does not exclude ordinary mechanisms for psi phenomena. Neher (1990) observes that "parapsychology" simply means "alongside of" the mainstream of psychology. After reviewing the two fields, Collins and Pinch (1982) conclude that "there is...nothing in psychology that definitely makes parapsychology unscientific." They also claim that "it has not been demonstrated decisively that there are any specific physical principles that conflict with parapsychology." Truzzi (198O) would consider parapsychology to be a "legitimate scientific enterprise" whether or not psi actually exists because parapsychologists employ such scientific methods as target randomization, double- blind judging, control groups, and statistical tests. For Leahy and Leahy (1983),"methodologically, parapsychology is a science; substantially,the verdict is still out."

This situation illustrates Foucault's (1980) observations that power permeates all aspects of science's efforts to obtain knowledge, that scientific legitimacy is inherently political, and that this politicized scientific legitimacy results in definitions, categorizations, and classifications that construct "reality." Some knowledge comes to be considered "legitimate" in historically specific times and places (Lather, 1990) while some knowledge falls by the wayside. The aphorism "knowledge is power" could easily be reversed: Power (e.g., political, economic, ideological, religious) determines what is considered to be "knowledge" (and therefore "reality") in any given temporal and spatial location. I would apply Foucault's insights to psi research; knowledge accumulated by parapsychologists about anomalous events lacks any type of power base; as a result it fails to be "legitimate" and to play a role in mainstream scientific discourse.

"Postmodern" scientists are fond of pointing out that "modern" science holds that only two "stories" about consciousness are credible: "central- state materialism" and the "new epiphenomenalism." Central- state materialism holds that all mental and physical events can be explained by physical science and its laws. There is an "identity" between mind and brain that will eventually enable all conditions arising in mentation and behavior to be reduced to physics and chemistry. The "new epiphenomenalism" holds that mental and physical events exist as two distinct domains but most (if not all) mental events exist in a causal relationship with physical events, even "emerging" from conditions that obey the laws of physics and chemistry (Campbell, 1984).

"Postmodern" science, on the other hand, attempts to bypass the mind/body dualism that has characterized "modern" Western science. For example, Charles Laughlin (Laughlin, McManus, & d'Aquili, 1990) has rejected both central- state materialism and the new epiphenomenalism as inappropriate to the phenomena they are trying to address. Rather, he advocates a "structural monism" which holds that mind and body (including experience and behavior) are two imperfect ways of perceiving and knowing the same unknown totality we may call "being." "Spiritual awareness" is one way of knowing the being; "physical" awareness is another way of knowing the being. Neither the more spiritual disciplines (theology, psi research, transpersonal psychology, anthropology, etc.) nor the more physical disciplines (physics, chemistry, physiology, etc.) can claim to be complete representations or explanations of realize as required by central- state materialism....Furthermore, consciousness does not neatly divide itself into spiritual (noncausal) and mundane (causal) attributes (as required for the new epiphenomenalism.

The structural monist holds that "mind" and "body" (or"mind" and "brain") are two views of the same reality. "Mind" is how "brain" experiences its own functioning, and "brain" provides the structure of "mind." From this perspective, neither the social and psychological sciences nor the neurosciences can be considered as complete accounts of consciousness. Reality is simultaneously composed of many levels, none of which is fundamental. But these levels are born of the analytic mind trying to make sense of an essentially undifferentiated field of systemically related processes. In this manner, Laughlin opens the door to transpersonal considerations, claiming that without them the accounting of consciousness in all its richness would be incomplete.

Chaotic systems analysis is one approach mentioned by Laughlin; it is a research method favored by some postmodernists. Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics that specializes in the study of processes that seem so complex that at first they do not appear to be governed by any known laws of principles, but which actually have an underlying order describable by vector calculus and its associated geometry. Examples of chaotic processes include water flowing in a stream or crashing at the bottom of a waterfall, changes in animal populations, and electroencephalographic (EEG) changes in the brain. From the perspective of chaos theory, brain activity during epilepsy is less "chaotic" than normal brain functioning; indeed, the EEG of an epileptic is extremely regular just preceding a @I{petit mal} seizure (Pool, 1989). Krippner (1994) has suggested the bifurcations between various chaotic and non- chaotic attractors might underlie the sleep changes noted by sleep researchers (e.g., Hobson, 1988), with rapid eye movement sleep being more complex chaotically than non- rapid eye movement sleep. The lower dimensionality or greater order of rapid eye movement sleep can be seen from the narrative the dreamer later attributes to the dream. Periodic attractors might represent an attempt to elicit additional images from the dreamer's memory bank that would facilitate the continuation of a story that is more coherent and more psychologically useful to the dreamer. Because both geomagnetic activity and rapid eye movement sleep are potentially chaotic systems, there would be ample opportunities for psi to enter this confluence of systems, especially if psi itself is chaotic.

Psi research may find greater receptivity on the part of "postmodern" scientists than it has from "modern" scientists. In the meantime, the Parapsychological Association (1989) has made it clear that "labelling an event as a psi phenomenon does not constitute an explanation for an event, but only indicates an event for which a scientific explanation needs to be sought. Furthermore, "Regardless of what form the final explanation may take..., the study of these phenomena is likely to expand our understanding of the processes often referred to as 'consciousness' and 'mind' and of the nature of disciplined inquiry...." Therefore, the essential touchstones for parapsychologists include the need to stress the speculative nature of the field, to be candid about its controversial status, and not to go beyond what is warranted by the evidence. However, this modesty should be combined with a devotion to scientific procedures and a commitment to the search for discovery and understanding. As the Parapsychological Association (1985) concluded, "Parapsychology has a century- old tradition of bringing scientific imagination and rigor to the study of phenomena typically ignored by other investigators. Whatever the eventual outcome of this search may be, it can not help but add to the sum of knowledge about humanity and the human condition."

In his wide- ranging book, The Future of the Body, Michael Murphy claims that "we live only part of the life we are given" (p. 3) and catalogs dozens of anecdotal and research reports to demonstrate what can be called the "latent reserve capacities" of the human brain and body. Parapsychological data are placed side by side with evidence from medicine, sports, the martial arts, and the behavioral and social sciences. The examples he gives of voluntary control, self- regulation, transformative practice, and extraordinary human experience indicate not only that "modern" science has overlooked many human potentials but that these capacities can provide practical avenues for an acceleration and betterment of human life.


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