Skin Conductance as a
Predictor of Randomly
Chosen Future Startles: An Overview and Invitation
Edwin C. May, Ph.D. & James Spottiswoode, B.Sc.
Laboratories for Fundamental Research
Palo Alto, CA
In 1978, Zoltán
Vassy published that skin conductance responses appeared significantly more
often before randomly administered electroshock stimuli than before controls.
We have significantly replicated this result but with white-noise stimuli
in a pilot study of 125 participants for a total of 2,500 stimuli.
We have examined possible explanations, such as expectancy effects or
problems with the stimulus generator, but have rejected them.
We are now conducting a formal study with the same audio-stimuli
protocol. We use an interstimulus
interval of 60 ±
20 s at which time a true and certified source of random bits determines the
stimulus type—white noise or control. A
session lasts for about 25 minutes and comprises a total of 20 stimuli.
We are seeking volunteers to participate in the study and have a set-up
here at the conference. The total
time commitment is 30 minutes, but might be only 5-10 minutes or so depending
upon meeting qualification criteria. A
significant replication in the formal study may indicate that the autonomic
nervous system, as measured by skin conductance, responds to future randomly
chosen white-noise stimuli—or psychophysiological evidence for what
parapsychologists call precognition.