Remedy’s Tribute to Dr.Michael Persinger, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario Canada
This document has been prepared to overview some of the work of Laurentian University’s Behavioural Neuroscience Group, organized by Dr Michael Persinger in the early ’70s. What follows is background on Dr. Persinger and selected items:
I was born 26 June 1945 in Jacksonville Florida. I was reared primarily in Virginia, Maryland and Wisconsin. After attending Carroll College (1963-1964), I was graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1967). Psychology ("Psychochemistry") was selected as a major because it was the interface between the social and physical sciences. I obtained my M.A. (Physiological Psychology) from the University of Tennessee and my Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba (1971). I have been employed as a professor at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario Canada since 1971. During this period I have published more than 200 technical articles in referred journals and have written six books.
My primary philosophical goal is to discern the commonalities that exist between the sciences and to integrate the fundamental concepts. I assume that the human brain, its microstructure and intricate activity are the source of all human knowledge. To that end I have emphasised geophysics because it is a central focus for the physical sciences and neuroscience (originally physiological psychology) because it is a central focus for the emerging biosocial sciences. One of the major consequences of this bilateral interest has been the pursuit and discovery of subtle interactions between the geophysical/ meteorological environment and human behaviour.
Because scientific explanations and attributions are transient labels applied to the largely inferred and unseen shared sources of variance within numerical data (or verbal responses that serve as nominal data), I have pursued methodology and multivariate (statistical) approaches. Magnetic fields were selected as a focus because they are one of the few stimuli that evoke changes across all levels of scientific discourse. This perspective was summarized in ELF and VLF Electromagnetic Field Effects (1974) and Space-Time Transients and Unusual Events (1977). These approaches in conjunction with the goal of integrating concepts have influenced my decision to investigate interdisciplinary problems and to apply these skills both within academic and practical settings.
Within academic settings, I organized the Behavioural Neuroscience Program at Laurentian University. This program was one of the first to integrate Chemistry, Biology and Psychology. The program was developed because there is a subset of students with integrative capacity who are not "A" students but who are extraordinary problem solvers who love to learn. Within clinical settings, I became a Registered Psychologist, specializing in Clinical Neuropsychology, in order to facilitate the integration of neurology, neuropsychology and psychology and to develop quantitative methods whose results could help facilitate the adaptation of people who have sustained mild to moderate brain traumas. Within the commercial setting, we have pursued the possibility that control of experience, from depression to memory, may be simulated by transcerebral application of complex magnetic field patterns associated with activity of either endogenous or exogenous ligands at the synapses.
As a human being, I am concerned about the illusionary explanations for human consciousness and the future of human existence. Consequently after writing the Neuropsychological Base of God Beliefs (1987), I began the systematic application of complex electromagnetic fields to discern the patterns that will induce experiences (sensed presence) that are attributed to the myriad of ego-alien intrusions which range from gods to aliens. The research is not to demean anyone's religious/mystical experience but instead to determine which portions of the brain or its electromagnetic patterns generate the experience. Two thousand years of philosophy have taught us that attempting to prove or disprove realities may never have discrete verbal (linguistic) solutions because of the limitation of this measurement. The research has been encouraged by the historical fact that most wars and group degradations are coupled implicitly to god beliefs and to the presumption that those who do not believe the same as the experient are somehow less human and hence expendable. Although these egocentric propensities may have had adaptive significance, their utility for the species' future may be questionable.
Because our work is interdisciplinary and may be different from what others have done, I insist that the techniques and results are published within the public forum (the scientific literature). This procedure will hopefully decrease the probability that the technology or knowledge will be employed only by a privileged few. Except for $10,000 given to us in 1983 by a researcher (from the U.S. Navy) who was interested in magnetic fields and brain activity, all of my work has been supported out of my pocket primarily from my private practice. Laurentian University has been consistently supportive by supplying space and infrastructure. We have been fortunate that the topics of research our laboratory have preceded the interests of the scientific social community by about 10 to 15 years.
Why Study Them?
All matter, including molecular aggregates, cellular organizations, and whole organisms, displays magnetic properties. The information, which controls the reactions of molecules, the actions of cells, and the behaviours of organisms, is determined by the spatial and temporal complexity of electromagnetic fields. We have found that the more we simulate natural electromagnetic patterns displayed by living systems the less the amount of energy is required to affect the organism, including its most complex behaviours such as memory, learning and social interaction. Whereas the effects of chemicals, including pharmacological agents (drugs), are determined by the specific complexity of their spatial structures, the effects of electromagnetic fields are determined by the complexity of their temporal structures. Theoretically, we might simulate all of the effects of drugs as well as the chemical pathways within biological systems by the direct application of appropriate weak, complex magnetic fields.
What We Have Found
Temporal complexity and its subordinate spatial heterogeneity (rather than homogeneity of intensity) are the keys to affecting living systems. About fifteen years ago, when the personal computer became easily available, Stan Koren generated columns of numbers between 1 and 257. Values above 127 were positive polarity (up to +5V); those below 127 were negative polarity (down to -5 V). The duration of the voltage associated with each number can be programmed to between 1 msec to several tens of msec. The numbers of values in each row have ranged from a few hundred to several tens of thousands. We have applied mathematical, reiterative and chaotic algorithms as well. This meant we could generate patterns of any complexity ranging from those derived from digital records of neuronal activity to those produced by the most complex mathematical formula. We then apply them through the brain or the entire body.
In summary we have found that: 1) burst-firing patterns produce reliable analgesia that is similar to 4 mg/kg of morphine, 2) a theta-frequency pattern known to produce long-term potentiation, the fundamental correlate of memory consolidation, can enhance or completely disrupt learning, 3) a specific sequence designed to affect gene expression produced specific long term behavioural and histological alterations in rats exposed to this pattern during their prenatal development. One specific pattern, designed to simulate continuous pulsations (pc1) with intensities between 1 nT and 50 nT may be involved with sudden infant death in rats. Other patterns when applied over the right hemisphere of the human brain can elicit mystical experiences such as the sensed presence. One particular pattern, when applied for 30 min once per week for three weeks, reduced depression in patients who had sustained acquired brain injuries.
Why Study Them?
Understanding the neurobehavioural correlates of the sense of self is one of the last challenges for neuroscience. In general the sense of self is involved with language processes traditionally associated with the left hemisphere of the human brain. However we were interested in the source of discovery: the neurocognitive processes of creativity. We had been impressed by the many historical and cross-cultural examples of ordinary people who accessed sophisticated knowledge well beyond their level of education or intellect when the right hemisphere was likely to have been stimulated. To test this association we experimentally simulated the condition. We applied specific complex magnetic fields of less than 1 microTesla over the right hemisphere. The most frequent result was the experience of the sense of a presence or of another Sentient Being.
We have hypothesised that this sense of a presence is the transient awareness of the right hemispheric equivalent to the left hemispheric sense of self. We suspect that the general properties of this "other" reflect right hemispheric functions that include a feeling of extended space (beyond the self, infinity), widened time (eternity) and marked emotion. Our data suggest that the sensed presence is the prototype for experiences of gods, incubi, succubae, demons, and other "supernatural" beings. Most cultures have words to describe a process that is everywhere and forever. They usually call it God or some equivalent. Whether or not the idea is valid or not (if God exists or does not exit) is not the issue. What is important is that we have a technology that may allow the identification of those portions of the brain and those activities of the brain that generate the experience. Consequently the experimental study of these phenomena may allow us a more precise understanding of their origins within the brain and the stimuli, man-made and natural, that produce them.
The primary experimental method to study the "presence" is to place the person in a simulated "cave", an acoustic chamber, where they are blindfolded and sit in the dark for about 30 min. The person wears a helmet or a collection of solenoids arranged around the head (like a crown) through which complex magnetic fields are generated. By applying specific patterns of weak magnetic fields that imitate the brains own activities, about 80% of the normal population report the experience of "another". Only specific patterns produce the experience; a reversed presentation of the pattern does not. People exposed to sham-field conditions rarely report the experience.
What we have found
We have found that: 1) the verbal label (usually supplied by the culture) the person places upon the experience strongly affects how it is recalled even within a few seconds after the end of the experiment, 2) experiences along the left side are usually aversive while those associated with the right side are more positive and may have "thoughts" associated with them, 3) increased geomagnetic activity in association with right hemispheric stimulation encourages the incidence of a sensed presence, 4) when a person attempts to "focus" upon the sensed presence it appears to become dynamic (to "move") since the act of focusing alters brain activity and hence how the applied complex fields interact with the brain, 5) an inordinate number of people who experience a sensed presence attribute them to gods or deceased individuals, 6) about 7% of the population, particularly males with enhanced temporal lobe lability and who attend a religious place frequently), report that if god told them to kill they would in his name, and 7) certain patterns of applied magnetic fields produce subjective experiences that are sometimes considered "parapsychological" or "paranormal". By applying a specific sequence of magnetic fields through the brain of a person who had experienced a "haunt", we generated the experience as well as paroxysmal electrical activity that suggested a source deep within the right temporal lobe.
Why Study Them?
The cells of all living systems are immersed within the earth's magnetic field. Life is likely to have evolved within and have been guided by the intrinsic temporal variations within the geomagnetic field. Most of their peak-to-peak intensities range between 1 picoTesla (one-trillionth of a Tesla) to over 1000 nT (1 millionth of a Tesla) within frequencies between 0.001 Hz (1 mHz) and 100 Hz. The larger intensities, between 50 nT and 1000 nT, involve slower variations. A component of this band is well within the major spectrum of electroencephalographic activity of the human brain and looks very similar to the classic shapes of "brain waves".
The complexities of these variations have not been measured because of their immensity. However they have the potential to simulate every known electromagnetic pattern that mediates the effects of the brain's own neurotransmitters upon cell receptors and to imitate all of the consequences of pharmacological agents (drugs). Many of these complex geomagnetic patterns occur during or following geomagnetic storms whose yearly frequency is in large part controlled by solar activity. Because the nearly seven billion (almost identical) brains of human beings on this planet are immersed in this field there may be emergent fields that under certain conditions affect large populations. The effect would be analogous to applying a magnetic field through billions of copper wires. Magnetic fields (tenors) would emerge that would have the capacity to be affected by and to affect the characteristics of the individual conductors (wires) that generated them.
What We Have Found
We have found moderately strong correlations between the amount of daily global geomagnetic activity and the occurrence of epileptic seizures, aggression, immunological responses, and ambulatory behaviour. Even the propensity to report experiences about death and crisis of others is associated with quiet periods of geomagnetic activity. Certain increments of activity, which are likely to reflect different "complex patterns", have been implicated in the occurrence of Sudden Infant Death and electrical cardiac anomalies resulting in death in subpopulations of adults. A correlation between two variables does not necessarily mean causation. Consequently we have imitated specific geomagnetic patterns by the special application of a computer technology. When we simulated these natural conditions in the laboratory by applying experimentally generated magnetic fields within the 50 nT range seizures in epileptic rats were elicited with the same incidence and latency as those associated with increases in natural geomagnetic activity.
Why Study Them?
One of the great philosophical questions is "what
is real?" Stated alternatively, the question might be phrased "is
what we perceive really what is there in the space and time around us?"
The general answer is that what is "really out there" is determined
by the organization of the brain, the ultimate measurer of reality. Structure
dictates function and microstructure dictates microfunction. Consequently we
can only detect and be affected by stimuli that can be discerned by molecular
responses, and hence by aggregation, cellular and organ (brain) structure.
Without changing the organization of the brain in a manner that allows a "reconfiguration"
of functions we might never know if the reality we perceive is determined by
the brain or independent of it.
Limbic seizures induced in rats by lithium and pilocarpine result in ranges of neuronal loss that involves more than 100 structures within the brain volume. These focal, variable losses produce a neuromatrix. The pattern of this "matrix" (that is the pattern of this neuronal loss) can be experimentally manipulated by treating the rat with different compounds such as acepromazine, ketamine, or prazosin, immediately after the onset of the seizures. One of the theoretical possibilities of "reconfiguring" the neuromatrix is the emergence of qualitatively new or novel behaviours. Single lesions or gross damage, where all neurons are lost, does not have the spatial complexity to allow this "reconfiguration".
What We Have Found
Rats in which ketamine was given after the induction of lithium-pilocarpine seizures display similar amounts of damage throughout the brain compared to those who received acepromazine. However the ketamine-treated rats showed normal behaviours. They did not show the adverse effects of aging and developed an unusual type of fat. This normality is consistent with the concept that specific classes of neuroelectromagnetic patterns generate all behaviours. As long as these neuroelectromagnetic patterns can be supported by the brain's microstructure (which requires a large matrix of "pin-point" foci or partial loss of neurons), the behaviours will be displayed. These "ketamine" rats appear normal behaviourally but they become sensitive to stimuli, such as weak (100 microTesla) magnetic fields, that do not affect the normals.
Rats in which seizures were followed by acepromazine exhibited: 1) complete abolishment of one of the most powerful mammalian properties: maternal behaviour, 2) hypersexual even within groups of same-sexed (males) animals, 3) marked aggression, 4) sensitivity to increased nocturnal geomagnetic activity, 5) marked impairments for spatial learning, and, 6) spontaneous seizures that can be synchronized and actually conditioned (learned) by presentation of food before the scotophase (even when food is available ad libitum) and precipitated by sudden geomagnetic activity.
Consciousness, like the sense of self, defines the person. The electromagnetic basis of consciousness appears to involve cohesive waves of electromagnetic fields, generated from the cortical manifold, that are recreated ("refreshed") within the 40 Hz range. These quanta of consciousness occur too quickly to be discerned within the range of what we experience as "now" which is the ability to discriminate between sequences separated by more than about 40 msec to 50 msec. There may be different types or states of consciousness, such as dreaming, each of which have different characteristics and properties. If consciousness is "recreated" every 20 to 25 msec ("40 Hz") rather than maintained as a continuous stream, then what happens between the end of one increment and the beginning of the next?
This question generates several interesting questions. Could information from outside of the brain be acquired during this "infinite infinitesimal" interval? Could this information then be incorporated into the stream of experience generated by the normal volleys of sensory neurons? Could normal consciousness be considered a type of "insulation" that prevents access from the myriad of stimuli that we typically do not detect? If there are only a few algorithms of neuroelectromagnetic patterns and what define the "individual" are random variations (neuroelectrical chaos) around these fundamentals, would experimental simulation of this complexity actually be the individual? Do these electromagnetic patterns that define the individual induce changes within its physical environment that allow its representation to remain (a type of memory) when the brain deteriorates, in a manner analogous to a hologram or to an image of an event upon a photograph?
What we have learned
We have found consciousness can be described as an emergent property of the complex electromagnetic process generated from predictable biochemical and biological processes. Although the terms soul and mind may have been useful at one time to describe this process, they are no longer required. They are more like the term "phlogiston" that was employed to describe why things burned before modern chemistry emerged. When there is no electrical current moving through the parts of a television, there is no picture. When the specific electromagnetic patterns are not generated within the brain structures there is no consciousness or awareness.
Some individuals with very different brain structures show different electromagnetic correlates that are associated with their ability to discern stimuli others cannot detect. Counter clockwise rotation of weak magnetic fields around the skull at specific rates of change (derivatives) can affect subjective time and allow the average person to experience many of the altered states reported by practitioners of mystical traditions as well as "paranormal" phenomena. The critical variables, like any chemical reaction, are the complexity and specificity of the temporal parameters. One component of consciousness may be "sequestered" within second or third derivatives of very narrow bands of changes in frequency within the theta range. Our calculations of resonance, based upon the power changes within quantitative electroencephalographic measures, suggest that one electromagnetic source of consciousness may actually exist within the 10 cm region outside of and surrounding the cranium.
Why study it?
Millions of people every year sustain a mechanical impact to the skull or body that does not necessarily result in suspension of consciousness. The source can range from a motor vehicle incident to an impact from striking the top of the skull upon a cabinet door. The consequences depend upon the nuances of the derivatives and vectors of forces that are generated through brain space. Within the weeks to months that follow these injuries the individual's personality changes. The person begins to exhibit the epileptic spectrum disorder including reduced concentration, poorer memory, depression, pain, and odd experiences. Sometimes the blood vessels within the brain are affected. The most common system is the Anterior Cerebral Artery. Because it supplies regions involved with communication between the two hemispheres and regions of the brain involved with experience of pain and depression, dysfunction in neurons associated with these areas generate behaviours that are misclassified as "psychological".
The person may begin to experience a sensed presence that is attributed to a recently deceased member of the family or to a cultural icon. Frequently the person feels as if he or she is "going crazy". Because these individuals often show normal CT scans and ordinary electroencephalographic records and they did not display suspension of consciousness, some medical personnel conclude there were no brain injuries. The problems are simply "psychological". Yet the person is never the same again and often cannot return to full productivity. In more than half of these cases personal relationships deteriorate and separations or divorces occur. The microstructure of the brain has been changed; the personality is altered forever.
What we have found
We have found that these profound changes in personality and capacity cannot be accurately detected by casual clinical observation. Only quantitative, norm-referenced testing allows the resolution to discern the changes. These individuals display accelerated "aging" for cognitive tasks. Many of these individuals respond best to anticonvulsants rather than to classic and SSRI-type antidepressants. The personal terror of the sensed presences can be minimized by explaining the source of the experiences (right hemispheric intrusions) and by neurocognitively restructuring their explanations.
Experimental simulations of mechanical impacts to the brain in rats have shown that neurons may shrink in size during the days to weeks following the single injury. The small areas within which this "shrinkage" occurs are very small and may be long distances from the point of impact. They would not be discerned by the limited resolution of even the most sophisticated MRIs and CTs. In some cases there are infiltrations of mononuclear cells, associated with the immune system, throughout regions whose functions are very similar to those reported as deficient by people diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue).
Why Study Them?
Anomalous lights that display unusual colors and movements have been observed for centuries. Every culture and historical period have employed different labels to describe and to explain their origins. These labels have ranged from demons to "UFOs"; explanations for their origins have ranged from dragons to extraterrestrial crafts. Charles Fort was the first to associate these "space-time transients" with earthquakes. About 30 years ago John Derr and I realized these phenomena were natural geophysical processes, similar to earthquake lights, that are associated with strain within the earth's crust. We anticipated that quantitative mapping of their places and times of occurrence might help forecast earthquakes. We did not realize that by discovering a natural explanation for these phenomena technical organizations would have another explanation for the appearance of these events upon their surveillance equipment. This explanation would not require the assumptions of either "aliens" or "new weapons" of an enemy.
What We Have Found
Quantitative multivariate analyses have indicated that most unusual balls of light, which occur in temporal clusters over geological regions, occur within weeks to months before an increased release of seismic energy within the area. The typical strength of the correlation the numbers of luminous phenomena and the amount of energy released is around 0.80 for optimal temporal increments of analyses (3-month to 6-month intervals). When the specific equations between UFO reports (the contemporary label for luminous events) and earthquakes in the central U.S.A. between 1950 and 1980 were applied to the 19th century (earthquakes were recorded then), there were predictable peaks in the numbers of luminous events for specific years. Although there were no reports of "UFOs" in the historical newspapers, there were reports of "odd air ships" and "phantom balloons". The massive "flap" of 1897 through several tens of states in the southeastern U.S.A. was followed by one of the largest earthquakes in the region.
Luminous phenomena occur within areas of strain load and release such as near rivers, reservoirs and fault lines. Sudden or excessive changes in water levels (and hence mass) are the most common predisposing factor. The pressures required to generate these phenomena are within the range created by human technology. For example the Derby, Colorado microquake swarm produced by pumping millions of gallons of fluid per month into the upper crust was associated with a "flap" of luminous phenomena that were labelled as "UFOs". Spatial and temporal gradient analysis indicated that luminous events slowly moved "away" from the source of injection. The velocity of this potentially "aseismic" wave moved at about 100 km/month. If these waves are associated with movement of water then the contaminants at the point of injection could be diffusing over hundreds of km although the time period would require several months to years.
The luminous event itself appears to be a powerful energetic source that generates powerful magnetic fields and electromagnetic radiation over a large spectrum. When the energy is within the visible wavelength, it can be seen. If the ball emerges from the ground radon residuals are measurable. If the ball strikes the ground the essential components of the upper crust, silicon, magnesium and sometimes iron materials can be found. The electrical currents induced by these powerful fields are sufficient to affect electronic circuits (lights, power grids, etc) and to directly stimulate the human body. Because of the brain's electrical sensitivity, altered perceptions, tingling sensations and "dream-like" states can be induced. If the current induction is excessive, convulsions occur followed by unconsciousness, posttraumatic amnesia, and reconstructive confabulation. In extreme cases death from cardiac failure or frank carbonization could occur..
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