Research into paranormal experience

I’ll say at the outset that I am not a believer in paranormal phenomena – but the research reported below shows that we should always keep an open mind. There may be quite rational explanations for some supposedly paranormal (or anomalistic) experiences. Then, of course, they are not anomalistic after all.

aura1Some people claim to be able to see a halo or aura around other people – a kind of glow, which is often colourful. Recent research has offered a possible explanation for this based on synthesthesia, a condition where people experience crossing between their senses. In other words the stimulation of one of their senses causes a perception in one or more different senses. The consequence is that, for example, different words have specific colours or ‘taste’ different.

The well-known neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran tested a 23-year-old young man (TK) who has both synesthesia and Asperger disorder (see here). TK also claimed to see a coloured light around people that varied with their emotions. When TK observed one of the volunteers he reported seeing a blue aura. When they stood the volunteer in front of a white screen TK was slower to identify blue letters projected onto the apparent blue aura but had no difficulty with orange letters. People without synestheia had no difficulty reporting letters of any colour. This suggests that the perception of an aura may be explained as a form of synesthesia.