Remarkable new study provides evidence that some ‘ghostly’ experiences are the direct result of neural activity.
I have conducted quite a few joint studies into the psychology of so-called haunted locations, including Hampton Court Palace in London and a set of underground vaults in Edinburgh. This work has examined various ‘normal’ explanations for people’s experiences, including suggestion, expectation, infrasound, and electromagnetic fields. As is so often the case with research into the paranormal, the work has proved controversial, with some arguing that ‘ghostly’ phenomena are due to spirits. However, a remarkable new study provides perhaps the strongest evidence to date that ghostly experiences are due to neural, rather than spiritual, activity.
Basically, neuroscientists Michael Persinger and Sandra Tiller from Laurentian University got lucky. Whilst carrying out a routine EEG brain scan, their female participant suddenly experienced a sense of presence. The woman reported her arms and hands feeling icy cold, and was then convinced that there was a man was in the room, even though she was alone. In short, a classic ghost-like experience. The resulting EEG scans showed a burst of electrical activity in her left temporal lobe at the time of her experience. This finding is in line with some of Michael’s other work, in which he has argued that the feeling of a sense of presence is caused by aberrant activity in the brain’s temporal lobes, thus explaining why those with temporal lobe epilepsy report the feeling so often.
Details about the study here.