Neuroscientists test Brazilian mediums, a Buddhist monk shows “unheard of” brain activity during meditation, interviews from the 2012 Parapsychological Association Conference, and more discussion of Dr. Eben Alexander’s NDE in this edition of Reality Sandwich’s Psi-in-the-News! 

  • Dr. Richard Grego presents interviews with Dr. Daryl Bem, Dr. George Williams, Dr. Athena Drewes and Dr. Robert Van de Castle from the 2012 Parapsychological Assocation conference. (Skeptiko)
    http://www.skeptiko.com/daryl-bem-quantum-theory-secret-psychologists-need-to-know/

  • Neurological tests on Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard have proven very provocative. According to neuroscientists, Ricard, an experienced meditator, is showing “unheard of” neurological activity in the depths of the meditative state. (Smithsonian Magazine)
    http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2012/11/the-worlds-happiest-man-is-a-tibetan-monk/

  • A brief overview of the recent Forever Family Foundation Conference, which hosted a number of leading researchers working in the field of Afterlife Studies, including Julie Beischel of the Windbridge Institute for Applied Human Potential, and Loyd Auerbach. (Powered by Intuition)
    http://www.poweredbyintuition.com/2012/11/18/is-the-spirit-world-real-the-forever-family-foundation-annual-conference/
  • Greg Taylor of The Daily Grail provides a brief introduction to Dr. Jim Carpenter's First Sight theory of psi. (The Daily Grail)
    http://www.dailygrail.com/Mind-Mysteries/2012/11/First-Sight-New-Way-Understanding-Psi
  • Melanie Boly, a postdoctoral fellow at the Belgian National Fund for Research in Liege, Belgium, is working on a way to quantify consciousness. These kinds of measurements that allow for objective ways to measure consciousness could help in future studies of NDE’s. (Nature)
    http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/10/a-tool-to-quantify-consciousness.html

  • More on Boly’s EEG measurements of consciousness from Discover Magazine. (Discover Magazine)
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2012/10/22/conscious-or-not-brain-responses-bring-scientists-closer-to-making-a-diagnosis-in-the-brain-damaged/

  • Franklin Humanities Institute and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences have come together to form the Neurohumanities Research Group, which hopes to foster diversity in the field of neuroscience. (Duke Chronicle)
    http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/duke-program-blends-neuroscience-and-humanities

  • A brief recap of Dr. Eben Alexander’s NDE experience, that includes some interesting statistics on patterns of religious belief in the scientific community. (Global Research)
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/near-death-experiences-proof-of-consciousness-outside-of-the-brain-or-byproduct-of-a-dying-mind/5311806

  • Amanda Cable discusses her Near Death Experience, and how the NDE experience itself can be a dramatic catalyst for change, regardless of what conclusions one draws about the existence of an afterlife. (The Australian)
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/why-the-day-i-died-taught-me-how-to-live/story-e6frg6n6-1226518099503

  • This article examines Dr. Eben Alexander’s NDE through the eyes of a Creationist. (Natural News)
    http://www.naturalnews.com/037917_Proof_of_Heaven_afterlife_Creator.html#ixzz2C2HDNtl3

  • A recent study conducted on Brazilian trance mediums has shown some interesting neuroimaging results. The study focused on collecting neuroimaging data correlated to the act of psychography (automatic writing.) (Forbes)
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2012/11/18/when-you-inject-spirit-mediums-brains-with-radioactive-chemicals-some-really-strange-things-happen/

  • The study itself can be downloaded from PLOS ONE. (PLOS ONE)
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0049360

  • Steven Novella provides a valuable critique of the study, recommending caution in evaluating the results due to the ambiguous nature of current neuroimaging techniques. (Neurologica)
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/studying-the-brains-of-mediums/

  • Discovery News offers another overview of the mediumship study, and details some of the paths that future research should take. (Discovery News)
    http://news.discovery.com/human/spirituality-brain-function-mediums-121116.html

  • Jack Hunter, founder and editor of Paranthropology – The Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, recommends these additional studies which provide further neurological data on mediumship, and put the current study into perspective: 
  • Electroencephalographic measurement of possession trance in the field
    http://www.clinph-journal.com/article/S1388-2457(02)00002-0/abstract

  • The Neurobiology of Trance and Mediumship in Brazil
    http://www.hoje.org.br/site/arq/artigos/cap_neurobiology_mediums.pdf 

  • Sam Harris outlines what he feels would be necessary in terms of evidence for NDE’s to indicate consciousness exists outside of a materialist explanation. (SamHarris.org)
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/science-on-the-brink-of-death

  • Bernardo Kastrup critiques Harris’ most recent article, and discusses some of the NDE evidence that he feels Harris ignores. (Metaphysical Speculations)
    http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2012/11/sam-harris-prejudiced-or-ignorant.html

  • Former Research Director at the Rhine Research Center, Stephan Schwartz, provides and overview of Nonlocality, Near-Death Experiences, and the Challenge of Consciousness. (The Explore Journal)
    http://www.explorejournal.com/article/S1550-8307(12)00177-2/fulltext

  • Drama ensues on Skeptiko as Alex Tsakiris takes Harris’ views personally, and publishes an email correspondence where Harris tries to explain why contentious attitudes and personal attacks don’t make for good science.  (Skeptiko)
    http://www.dailygrail.com/Mind-Mysteries/2012/11/First-Sight-New-Way-Understanding-Psi

  • Dr. Robert Schoch discusses some of the anecdotal reports of more extreme examples of anomalous experiences, such as levitation, and the difficulty in accepting certain reported phenomena due to how far they stretch our regular understanding of the world. (New Dawn Magazine)
    http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/mysteries-miracles-parapsychology

  • What’s at stake in our search for, and study of, anomalous human experiences? Leo Foresta provides his thoughts on what the investigation of exceptional experiences means for human potential. (Leo Forestra)
    http://leoforesta.com/2012/11/15/the-renaissance-of-parapsychology/

  • Professor V.S. Ramachandran, professor of psychology and neurosciences at the University of California in San Diego and B. Allan Wallace, writer, translator and Buddhist, in conversation about the future of consciousness studies, and the role of neuroscience in discovering the depths of human potential. (ABC Australia – Big Ideas)
    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2012/11/19/3634607.htm

Special thanks to Don Eglinski for pointing out the study on Brazilian mediums.