By Andrew Nichols, Ph.D.

Psychic phenomena are controversial, and any discussion of the paranormal provokes debate. For more than a century psychical research, or parapsychology as it is called today, has been attempting to use scientific methods to unravel the mysteries of psi (psi is the first letter of the Greek word psyche and is used to denote any type of psychic phenomena). Recent developments in parapsychology and neuroscience have revealed new clues about the way ESP and other psychic abilities are processed by the brain.

Psychic abilities and experiences are much more common than most people think, and involve a wide variety of seemingly unrelated experiences including precognition (dreams or visions of the future), telepathy (mind to mind communication), clairvoyance (receiving psychic impressions from a location or object), psychokinesis or PK (mind over matter), as well as hauntings, poltergeists, reincarnational memories and a variety of other paranormal events. PK, psychic healing and poltergeist-type phenomena are referred to as projective (or expressive) psi, since they seem to involve some type of force or energy directed by the human mind, interacting with the external environment.   

ESP, precognition and some types of haunting are referred to as receptive psi, since they involve receiving information without the aid of normal means of communication.  One of the most interesting discoveries in the field of parapsychology is that environmental factors, particularly magnetic and electromagnetic fields, apparently affect the brain’s ability to produce psychic effects or receive psychic impressions. The Earth itself produces its own magnetic field, which varies in response to a variety of climatic and geological factors. Sun spots and solar flare activity, for example, in addition to causing radio and TV signal interference, the aurora borealis, and other straight-forward physical effects, also has an effect on paranormal phenomena and experiences.

Several recent studies have shown that projective psi phenomena, such as psychokinesis and poltergeist effects, are more active when the Earth’s geomagnetic field is high, as it is during solar magnetic storms. Psi receptive phenomena such as ESP and precognition, on the other hand, seem to be inhibited during times of high geomagnetism and increase when the Earth’s magnetic field is at its lowest ebb. Hauntings and other types of spontaneous paranormal phenomena such as UFO encounters, also seem to be more prevalent in the presence of man-made electromagnetic fields of high intensity, such as those produced by high-voltage electrical transmission wires and household appliances.

Our research team has measured unusual electromagnetic activity in many “haunted” locations over the years. These findings seem to suggest that increased magnetic or electromagnetic energy somehow provides a trigger or “boost” to paranormal phenomena which require the expenditure of energy. These same energy fields may create “static” which drowns out the subtle signals of ESP, making reception more difficult for receptive types of psi. But what is it about the structure or physiology of the brain which makes psi reception possible in the first place? Fortunately, science is providing some answers along those lines too.

There is strong evidence to support the argument that each hemisphere of the brain has a separate and conscious ego. There are at least two personalities cohabitating in every normal human. Each hemisphere of the brain has a self-reflective consciousness, and a substratum that allows us to process information and symbols. Whatever we see, feel, hear, or touch gets channeled into this system that abstracts these sensations and allows for language, conceptualizations and abstractions.

When one of these centers is active, a neurophysiological mechanism actively inhibits the other from expressing its mental contents. This means that the “unconscious” is always thinking and aware, self-reflective, and needs to express itself from time to time. Most of us rely heavily on processing in the left hemisphere, the center of verbal communications, logic, and linear thinking.  But the psychic centers of the brain seem to be primarily in the right hemisphere, the part of the brain which controls our artistic, musical, intuitive, and non-verbal communication skills.

The corpus callosum is the part of the brain which connects the two hemispheres. In patients where the corpus callosum has been severed, communication between the two hemispheres continue, although at a reduced level of efficiency.  We do not fully understand how the two egos communicate, but those who become more aware of the other ego inhabiting their brain, begin the spiritual awakening of their psychic abilities. Psychic tools, such as Ouija boards, pendulums, and dowsing rods, are really nothing more than amplifiers. They amplify very small motor signals. And very small signals are usually as much as your “other ego” can organize. I believe that the people we refer to as “psychics” may not necessarily have any more psi ability than anyone else, but they are simply more able to receive information from the unconscious portion of their minds, where psychic information is processed. Of course, everyone has a “Psi-Q,” and like any talent, some people do have more natural ability than others. Some of us seem to have very little psi ability, and a few are truly “psychic savants.”

The psychic center of the brain seems to be located primarily in the temporal lobes, especially the right temporal lobe. This is part of the primitive emotional part of the brain known as the limbic system. In spite of the Hollywood version of ESP where the person attempting to use psychic abilities is instructed to “co-n-n-n-centrate!”, parapsychologists have long been aware that it is emotional involvement, not concentration or will power, which enhances psychic functioning. Psychic abilities stem from the more primitive limbic brain, not from the intellectual cortex.

Tests administered to many people who report frequent psychic experiences, or those who live in “haunted” houses, indicate that many of them have unusual properties in the temporal lobe area of their brains. Interestingly, the temporal lobes of the brain are the most sensitive to electrical and magnetic stimulation. Studies conducted by Dr. Michael Persinger and others suggest that many subjective sensations associated with paranormal experiences can be reproduced in the laboratory by applying magnetic fields to the temporal lobes. These effects are transient and apparently harmless, but result in a temporary increase in the subject’s psychic awareness.

Another recent discovery of interest to the psychic researcher is the discovery that the human brain containes magnetite (ferrous oxide) which renders the human brain sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic fields. It has long been known that birds and other animals use magnetite in their brains to aid in navigation. Magnetite is especially concentrated in the pineal gland and the temporal lobes. The pineal gland is a small structure in the center of the brain, corresponding to the “third eye” of Eastern mysticism, or the sixth chakra. This gland is indeed a type of vestigial eye, and is sensitive to light and other types of electromagnetic radiation.

Perhaps the most astounding discovery of all is that the brain produces a psi enhancing neurotransmitter. A class of substances known as Beta-Carbolines are secreted from the pineal gland. This neurochemical is only produced at night (the time when most psychic experiences occur), and breaks down into melatonin, another substance which has been associated with psychic experiences. Beta-Carbolines are a class of alkaloids which have been known to scientists for some time, although only within the last two decades have they been discovered in the brain. In the 1940s, Richard Schultes, the famed Harvard ethnobotanist, brought back samples of a strange plant from the Amazon jungles. Known as Ayahuasca or “vision vine” to the Colorado Indians of Ecuador, Bannisteropsis caapi is used to make a hallucinogenic drink by the shamans of numerous South American tribes. This drink induces a trance-like state in which visions of various types are experienced, and which is widely believed to greatly enhance psychic abilities. The active ingrediant in this plant is a Beta-Carboline, very similar chemically to the substance produced in our brains every night. This substance was originally dubbed telepathine due to its purpoted psi inducing properties. The subtance is also related chemically to Dimethyl Triptamine, or DMT, another hallucinogenic drug which has been linked to increased spiritual, mystical and paranormal experiences.

The dualistic model of the human psyche proposes that human thought, emotion and behavior is the result of interactions between a physical brain and a non-physical consciousness. As parapsychologists continue to study the links between these two functional units, a new understanding of psychic phenomena is beginning to emerge, and may one day lead us to the ability to induce ESP or PK at will. Whether we choose to use such awesome power for the benefit or detriment of the world, remains to be seen.

21 Responses to “ESP AND THE BRAIN”

  • Clarance Taylor says:

    I have been told that research scientists from Duke University were sent to Savannah, GA by the A I P to research reports of hauntings. I would like to have information about the research and results and would be glad to pay for it.
    Thank you,
    Clarance Taylor

    • Unfortunately, most of the investigations conducted by the AIP in Savannah and elsewhere are in private homes, and we must regard the details of these cases as confidential information in order to protect the privacy of our clients. A few of our Savannah investigations, such as the case of “Danny’s Bed” have been publicised by the parties involved, and therefore are available for review in books or on the Internet.

  • Desi Allen says:

    Hello, Thank you for this information. I plan to be studing this when I get to collage I was wandering where can you study this kinda stuff out and how do you know so much about it? Can you tell me more?

    • We receive many requests for information about education and careers in parapsychology. Since paranormal research is a poorly funded field, largely rejected by the scientific and academic establishment, there are few career opportunities available for the professional parapsychologist. Except for the occasional undergraduate course, few colleges and universities offer training in scientific parapsychology. There are still a few academic institutions which offer degree programs in parapsychology. The Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland provides a few graduate students with the opportunity to study for a doctorate in psychology with a specialty in parapsychology. In addition, Atlantic University in Virginia Beach, VA (Associated with Edgar Cayce’s organization, the A.R.E.) is currently developing a master’s degree program in parapsychology which will be offered in a distance learning format.

  • helen Campbell says:

    My twin was drowned in 1975. She was identical. I still miss her. I am now 71 years old. We had telepathic experience, eg buying exactly the same shoes and a pen, although we were hundreds of miles apart. I have never been able to work out why she drowned. I do not think it was a deliberate suicide. He mental state was treated very badly by psychiatrists, eg ignored all my parents and my calls for help to keep hear safe. A few years before diagnosis was depression, got treatment and kept in until she was safe – another town. Her diagnosis was claimed to be a personality disorder after she died. This ws their excuse for not protecting her. I also to this day have taken dangerous overdoses almost without realistion what could happen. I am sensitive and feel a lot for poetry and music. I find it hard to believe that she is gone from me. I want to write a book about a character with mental illness. I am progreesing a bit but I need strength and concentation and purpose. I want to help people. Can the paranormal help me to get the strength to do this?

    • john juan says:

      i know in my past experience that just cause they cross over the other side we don’t lose contact with our loved ones we have to believe, i know its hard and you don’t want to omit it to others cause they might think your off you rocker, my mother who comes and visit me once and awhile (may she rest in peace) told me that just cause you see them don’t mean others can, god doesn’t give everyone the gift, feel fortunate especially twins you never disconnect for someone that’s that close, if she comes to you, you usually will smell a flowers since or a thing that will remember you two, don’t dismiss it as a flu-ck, its just the way the lord is letting her say to you she just thinking of you, i usually say a prayer to god for letting us have a moment together, feel lucky and at your age be careful who you tell cause some people just don’t understand and they use it against you good luck bless you

  • Stephanie Luenags says:

    Dear American Institute of Parapsychology:

    Hello, my name is Stephanie Luengas and I am a sophmore at Jefferson High School. I am very interested in a future career in parapsychology, but would like to gather more information about the career. I wanted to know if I could interview any faculty member at the American Institute of Parapsychology for my employability class via telephone or email. I would love and would much enjoy interviewing someone in the parapsychology field. Please contact me as soon as possible. Thank you for your time and consideration.


    Stephanie Luengas

  • Elle Philip says:

    What are your thoughts on Reincarnation? Could it be that at birth, excess energy from a deceased person was absorbed by a newborn? Or do you think it more complicated than that? What are your thoughts on Old Souls?
    Please and Thank You!

    • The concept of reincarnation is an ancient one, and is an accepted belief of many religious traditions. Parapsychological evidence collected by such noted researchers as Dr. Ian Stevenson suggest that some aspect of consciousness does survive death and may sometimes be reincarnated in the mind and body of an individual living in a later time. This information from the past may or may not be the ‘soul’ of the deceased person. It is also posible that information may be transmitted across time via ESP to a receptive mind, or that some type of ‘psychic residue’ is left behind by the dead, which can be received by a later mind like a stray television broadcast signal being picked up by a satellite dish.

  • Great info on e.s.p. , Extrasensory Perception

  • Amy says:

    Would someone be able to contact me? Last year in March, 1 week before the Tsunami hit Japan, I saw like a movie pictures in my mind of smoke, fires, upended shopping carts, people laying dead in the streets. In 1988, I was an artist and drew a painting that was of the twin towers being taken down be two airplanes. Other things I drew and painted came true so I had to quit painting. I then began to have many nightmares which portend things to happen, that did happen. I was able to tell a german man who I never met before nor seen his house, that he had a tree in his backyard that the limbs were rotting and for him to beware of. 6 months later while he was trimming his tree, those limbs very nearly fell on him. I was able to predict several earthquakes in the last year or so, and other disasters like bombings in israel. I can not do anything about this becasue I generally do not know where these will take place. And even if I could tell where they took place, how could anyone stop these things from happening? When my mother died in 3/8/2008, we were not close from years of disagreements and had not spoken to each other for many years. She took her life, but on that night she told me she died and that She would ”see” me soon. I can look at someone and tell if they are healthy or not, and other very strange things. I can not reconcil this and it is driving me insane. I do not know what to do to stop it. I do not want to know of such things. Now, if i painted the world trade center buidlings coming down 14 years before it happens, then this means there is no such thing as free will and only destiny. All the things that had to come together to form those events on that day were all concived well beforehand. How could the subconcoius know something like this 14 yrs before it happens?

  • Remarkable things here. I am very glad to look your article. Thank you so much and I’m having a look ahead to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  • Tina hansen says:

    Hello my name is tina ive been intrested in this field since iwas achild parnormol hapnenings have been apart my life dting back to my grandmother seing her father who had died. Is there away ihave tht same conection when she died idreamed about her after people die they apper in mydreams and giving me messeges. What does this mean I consider myself to be diffret with things ive witnessed. Any way i can further my knowledge on these things?

  • john juan says:

    i had the gift at a early age of 7yrs old at first i thought everyone had the gift/curse. sprites would come to me in a early of the night ask to do or say things, they always seem to wake me around 12-3:00am, to say the least i didn’t have many friends, it really hurt inside to be called a freak and a weirdo, i remember one time a kid threw a (firecracker) at a woman who was carry a baby i seen it happen and then i focus at the firecracker and it didn’t go off, but once the kid who threw it pick up it went off in his hand, somehow i really didn’t feel bad cause of what he had wanted to do the out come would have been a lot worse. my great grandmother said i was/had a hicks on me so dunking me in holy water and praying over me with powder and stuff half of the things she did when my mom was at work i just saw thing that was going to happen my stomach would hurt bad, i went to the doc, so many times that he finally said i had growing pains,when i was in my teens and twenties i was able to lay still and see me fly over trees and houses i was able to look in to a window and see what they were doing, i had plenty of girlfriends but once they started to cheat on me i quit going with them (all i had to do was to hold there hand and i knew who they were with, so now i sit and i do phone reading I’m in the high 70-80%+, but I’m really holding back i know I’m better then that at least i can teach others how to become one it’s not hard, my grandmother on my mother side used to take me to the lotto stand in Mex. city and ask me to pick numbers, i remember once she got busted by my grandfather and he told her that she was a bad influence on me and she was taken me to hell… she told him if god gave me the gift than why not use it, she had a point. and when i see someone who’s going to pass over(the other side) i see shadows (two) i guess one is a friend who they trust and the other guilds them over too the other side) i can see them usually 6mo.till a 1yrs before they pass over, another time i remember when i went to pick up my son and he told me a girl had kiss him (he was 7yrs) i told him he better get used to it cause there going to be thousand of girls kissing him,at the age of 18 united and paramount offer him a contract to do the sound track to a few movies he did his last tour was in June from A.L. to Mex. and then japan. the name of the group is called the suicied machine his name is jay Navarro,(please don’t used his name cause i don’t want him to be involved) but from picking numbers to seeing in to the future, i can do a bit of healing but it takes a lot out of me. so does talking to the sprites, it like running a tri-marathon when your not ready, p.s. i had leukemia and diabetes,my leukemia is gone my diabetes is in 110 and my other problems are doing alright. i just want to help others to help themselves, god has given me a gift to help others and who knows maybe to help ourselves p.s.i’m not a hokes and I’m not a prank if you feel you like to talk to me more than I’ll give you my phone # i mean what harm could it do? #734-778-7837 i only told you a part cause i don’t want to scare you. john Navarro I’m registered with the F.B.I.(lost and found div.) they haven’t used me in a long time i guess if word got out it would makes them look bad.i was sad but happy cause what i saw made me wonder what is wrong with this world..

  • sunanda says:


    I am a professional psyche, counsellor and trainer.
    I am into tarot card reading, dowsing ,crystal healing,reiki healing etc
    I have had many OBE, precognitive dreams,visions, astral travel experiences etc…..I have done Mba but since my calling was metaphysics now I wanto research on the psi / paranormal experiences i.e, phd in parapsychology per se. Kindly let me know which institute/academia should I enrol in and how to apply .

  • Randi Wooten says:

    I never really thought of Parapsychology as an actual researched study. My younger sister always watches a show, “Paranormal State”, involving “discoveries” or “hauntings” such as this. But, as many know Hollywood can make anything believable. Hearing that people actually study this topic and have truly witnessed paranormal phenomena amazes me!

  • Elizabeth Hopkins says:

    I believe everybody has a sense of ESP. I think that’s more of a God given gift, that God instills in all of us to make us beware of things and circumstances. I feel as though so-called ESP is just the Holy Spirit guiding and leading us. Just as of a sense of smell, taste, or hearing that is God given. Science can call it what they want to, but I call it GOD. thank You

  • Yury says:

    I made a website dedicated to the telepathy.
    This site allows to test telepathic connections online between two users. The database accumulates information about the number of sessions, number of tries to send telepathic messages, and the number of successful connections.
    Please take a look:

  • This is something that i have been fascinated by for most of my adult life. There is so much evidence now coming out of the wood work it’s really hard to deny it anymore! These things are real, tangible things!

    It’s nice to see someone in a position of authority talk about it so candidly.

    Bless you Sir!


  • R says:

    Thank you, Dr Andrew Nichols, for this intriguing article in regards of what part of the brain is used with intuition.
    As a very young child, it was easy for me to sleep and I used to have a lot of lucid dreams, OBE, etc. The older I got, the worse my sleeping pattern became and insomnia plagues me – I suspect the lack of serotonin produced the less capacity I’ve had with my intuition. Naturally, as humans, with lack of sleep, we all will suffer severe 5 senses and PSI related consequences.
    Now in my 40’s -due to Hashimoto’s disease – I feel that it has also blocked a lot of my pineal gland secretions — therefore my mind is stagnated… I’m super sensitive to light and any kind wether man-made or natural light (moon light, dawn, a candle flame) I instantly wake up. I can tell I do not produce enough serotonin due to lack of upper eyelids being puffy – I can shoot out of bed wide awake. I actually miss feeling groggy in the morning and slowly waking up. I just now discovered I have apnea and hopefully when I find a dentist to help with making an oral appliance – it will improve my sleep patterns. Then it should help heal my brain, in return heal my body and perhaps my ability to tap into my intuition will be less of a “chore”.

    I especially appreciate, Dr Nichols, your pointing out of how intuitive people who uses various tools (I tend to use tarot cards) such as pendulums or dowsing rods, etc are simple forms of amplifiers. You describe it perfectly. A friend of a friend vehemently is against any “fakes” who has to depend on outside tools and only believes in mediums who does not have to use anything to get information. I was upset and tried to explain it’s just a form of an aid to help some of us to retrieve information. Now your ESP and the Brain article nailed it. Thank you! I just forwarded it to my friend and I hope she will forward it to her skeptical friend. (Not that I need to prove anyone anything – it’s still nice to have a solid professional statement to back me up).

    Another thing that had me want to shout out loud “Ah-ha!” Emotional involvement helps tap into intuitive – once again, you perfectly word in something I could never express but subconsciously knew and sometimes forgotten — and so once more, thank you for your passing this crucial fact! Being an empath all my life, I’ve often tried to stay “numb” in order not to receive too much information from strangers.
    What I find interesting is that I will be open – here in the now moment – emotionally neutral — at work once in a coffee shop – out of the blue, I suddenly felt a deep depression. Puzzled, I wasn’t sure why I was feeling so miserably sad – after making a mental check list of what could be contributing my sudden sadness – nothing checked out. I then looked over to my co-worker who, outwardly, appeared serene and was even smiling busying himself with his tasks at the carafe machine. After a few moments, I finally blurted out “Are you sad?” He immediately said no. I replied embarrassed that I was just being silly and to ignore my recent question.
    A few minutes later my co-worker finally admitted, after making sure no one else near us could overhear us, that he was going to quit the job and would miss us co-workers and asked me to promise not to reveal to anyone. I promised to keep quiet and we shared a secret smile and hugged and went back to work.

    My question here — is being neutral a form of an unnamed emotion – I’m just being open — what is that called? I’m unsure if you understand my question – but it would wonderful if you can provide an answer.

    Thank you, once more, for providing a fantastic article. Please keep more insights such as these coming! The world needs to know about it.



  • Robert L. says:

    Thank you for this concise yet informative article. As a clinical and spiritual hypnotherapist, I am always interested
    in gaining more knowledge on the various dynamics of the human brain and consciousness. It is well known in esoteric circles that the pineal gland is involved in spiritual psychic experiences. There are also some schools of thought that say the aroma of frankincense can stimulate the pineal gland. There is also a good amount of research and information on reincarnation. I took a course in hypnosis and past life regression from IMU, which was taught by Richard Sutphen.

    Best Regards