Dean Radin – 2
Have any sex differences been found among people with regard to psychic abilities?
Dean: Very few.
David: I surveyed four hundred people in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, and a significantly higher proportion of women reported psychic experiences, compared to men.
Dean: I think women are more likely to report these experiences than men because it is socially more acceptable, and not because of any inherent differences. Anecdotally there are some observations about who is naturally more psychic. As a man, it’s probably not a straight man, but a gay man. It’s a gay man with a particular body type. For women it’s likely to be not a gay woman, but a straight woman, again with a particular body type. But I don’t know of any surveys that have had follow-up controlled testing, so I’m not all that confident about gender and sexual preference differences. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were brain differences between people with high and low skills. PET studies have not been done yet, but designs are being discussed. In addition to optimizing everything we know to improve psychic functioning, those studies would be done with identical twins with histories of psychic phenomena–not only between themselves, but in their families. And we’d look for cases where one or both twins are musicians, because that’s another indicator, especially early childhood training in music, and even more specifically, early childhood training in music on stringed instruments. There is a little data that let’s us design optimal states, but mostof it is still highly speculative.
David: What’s your sense of how music might influence the development of these kinds of abilities?
Dean: The line of research came out of the observation that creative people generally have a higher belief in psychic phenomena. The correlations are very high, like .6 or .7. Given these observations, empirical tests were done with different kinds of creative people to see who would be better in a telepathy test. It turns out that musicians were best. We know from research in the neurosciences that their corpus callosum is different from non-musicians.
If you’re an early-trained, string musician in particular, where one hand is doing something complicated, and the other hand is doing something even more complicated, the brain hemispheres need to talk to each other at a much higher facility than in a person who is not trained to do complicated things with both hands, listen to the music, analyze it, handle pitch intonation, and lots of other things at the same time. The brain is very fully engaged while performing music.
David: So it’s a capacity for simultaneity?
Dean: Or a hemispherical integration of a higher order than is usual.
David: You know there’s culturally-created differences too in how brains respond to music. PET scans were done with American and Japanese musicians, and they found that Japanese musicians used their left hemisphere when they were performing more than American musicians, who used their right hemispheres more.
Dean: No, I didn’t know that. I do know that the brains of musicians who are trained to read music are different than musicians who are learned by ear.
David: Their training is such that their brains actually get wired or programmed differently?
Dean: That’s right.
David: There’s more left hemisphere activity in people who were trained to read music?
Dean: That’s right, because it becomes another language. I was trained as a classical violinist, and played for many years. More recently I’ve switched to the banjo. I found that when I play the violin, or the banjo, I cannot speak. What it feels like internally is that whatever brain mechanism is used for language articulation is exactly the same mechanism for articulating music.
So it’s not surprising to me that some brain areas begin to specialize in these ways. Maybe for somebody to perform well as a psychic in a lab test, where we’re asking them to articulate what’s going on in their head, they have to have this strange combination of perhaps right-brain intuitive knowing, and a rich and fast connection to the other hemisphere so they can articulate it.
David: What sort of relationship do you see between science fiction and true scientific progress?
Dean: It certainly looks like a lot of science fiction is a precursor to what happens later. I’ve been to a number of scientific conferences where science fiction authors have been invited to give their view. So where the ideas come from, and