Futurehealth Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning & Positive Psychology and StoryCon Meeting

Jan 19-22, 2007 Palm Springs, CA  Pre-Conference Courses Jan 15-18        

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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.

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