Leanna Standish, ND, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Bastyr University in Seattle, calls the phenomenon "distant neural signaling." She agrees it sounds kind of whacky, and she cant explain why it works with some people and not others, but after several experiments, shes convinced the phenomenon is real.
In one study, Standish recruited 30 pairs of volunteers who knew each other and in some cases were related. The pairs spent 10 minutes meditating together and were then sent to separate rooms 30 feet apart. The "sending" partner watched checkerboard patterns flicker on and off on a video monitor, while the "receiving" partner watched a static pattern. Both of the partners were hooked up to electroencephalograms (EEGs) to measure their brain activity.
When the pattern flickered, it triggered increased brain activity in the "sender." "What we were trying to see was if the increased brain activity in the sender would correspond with increased activity in the receiver," says Standish.
The experiment showed this increased activity in five out of the 60 receivers. That means this brain connection didnt happen in the majority of the partners, but Standish says, "If it happens even once, its kind of amazing."
To make sure the connections that did happen were not just coincidence, Standish repeated the same experiment, but this time she was the "receiver" and she was lying in a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner -- with several inches of lead and a magnetic field separating her from the "sender."
Brain scans show that even when shielded by the MRI, blood flow to Standishs brain increased in sync with the "sender." However, when the pair switched places and Standish acted as the "sender," the "receivers" brain did not show the increased blood flow.
In a third experiment, Standishs colleagues at North Hawaii Community Hospital in Kamuela asked traditional Hawaiian healers to try to send brain signals to "receivers" who were laying in the MRI scanners. In all but one of the cases, Standish says the healer was able to produce increased brain activity in the "receiver."
Standish says she doesnt know how these signals traveled between brains, and she doesnt know if the healer was actually healing, but she says something is going on, and it deserves more study.
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