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Year 2011

Persinger's work with God helmet: TGD inspired interpretation

In the previous posting I described the God helmet experiments of Persinger briefly and Persinger's own interpretation of the results. Anyone interested to understand what neurotheology is about should listen the fantastic talk God and the Brain - The Persinger 'God Helmet', The Brain, and visions of God by Todd Murphy.

In this posting I will discuss the TGD inspired interpretation of the results of Persinger's experiments. To put it in very concise manner: whereas Persinger interprets right brain as the "visitor" explaining sense of presence experiences and even experiences in which subject meets God or light being, I identify the "visitor" of the visitor experiences as the personal magnetic body or in the case of enlightment experiences as the emergence of a new layer to its fractal structure. Magnetic body would be also responsible for the third person aspect of conscious experience, which means that we are able to see ourselves from bird's eye perspective. Magnetic bodies make as social animals, and are responsible for the cultural evolution and explain why we differ so much from our cousins although the genomes differ so little. EEG and its fractal generalizations provide a universal communication and control tool for magnetic body so that it can use biological body as sensory receptor and motor instrument.

1. Frequency modulation as a "code of consciousness"

Maxwell's electrodynamics would suggest that a superposition of endogenous and external magnetic fields takes place in God helmet experimens and is partially responsible for the effects. This is clear from the fact that quite spesific magnetic stimulation is used (signals derived from EEG during the second stage). In TGD framework one should be able to interpret this.

  1. In TGD Universe endogenous magnetic fields could form a fractal hierarchy: flux quanta inside flux quanta. Several critical values of magnetic field expected. Flux quanta could be flux tubes or sheets (DNA strands could be traversed by flux sheets and one could have hierarchy of genomes making possible collective gene expression at various levels).

  2. There is a hierarchy of Planck constants so that one can assign to the cell membrane potential a Josephson frequency proportional to 1/hbar and to cyclotron frequencies photon energy proportional to hbar.

  3. The code for the communications from biological body to various levels of the magnetic body relies on the modulation of the Josephson frequencies assignable to the cell membrane. Assuming that the value of Planck constant is integer multiple of its standard value these frequencies span an enormous range. In the case of EEG the Planck constant is of order 1013 in order to for photons with the energy of visible photon to have frequency about 10 Hz. Since Josephson frequency is proportional to the membrane potential, the modulations of the membrane potential induce modulations of Josephson frequency so that the signal sent to the magnetic body is modulated and this frequency modulation must define the "code of consciousness".

  4. The frequencies involved with these communications are sums of harmonics of Josephson frequency and cyclotron frequency and also cyclotron frequencies can be modulated by modulating magnetic fields. The simplest possibility is that the external magnetic field induces modulation of the magnetic field. This modulation is small since the field strength is of order .01 Gauss and by a factor 1/20 smaller than the endogenous magnetic field Bend=.2 Gauss suggested by the effects of ELF em fields on vertebrate brain. Of course also other field values are expected to be present.

2. The basic philosophy behind the TGD based model

The basic philosophy behind the TGD based explanation of God helmet experiences differs in many respects from that behind the model of Persinger and Murphys. Therefore it is good to describe this philosophy first.

  1. In the normal social consciousness based strongly on verbal communications the left brain self dominates and social interactions actually split the left brain self from right brain self so that right brain self remains a silent companion unable to express itself except throught intuitions. This raises some questions.

    Could just the need to communicate the experience verbally automatically project "me" to left brain me and cut if from "right brain self" so that only the memories of left brain self are communicated. What would happen if the subject person would communicate with external world by singing? Often persons who have lost their ability to speak and comprehend spoken language can communicate by singing. Would the the projection occur to left brain self and could the memories be different?

  2. Persinger and Murphy seem to assume that right brain is God from the perspective of the left brain. Magnetic body is responsible for the third person aspect of consciousness and also for the ability to see the dying biological body from the bird's eye perspective during OBEs accompanying also NDEs, which accordingy to Murphy could be quite real. There is indeed evidence that a subject person unable to move from bed has been able to see objects which she should not have been able to see. If magnetic body is real it could also receive extra-sensory information.

    Could the magnetic body of right brain or of the entire brain be in some sense the God from the view point of the brain? The TGD based interpretation for the vision of Jaynes about bicameral consiousness as a predecessor of modern consciousness would conform with this. The God of old testament would be the personal magnetic body which would not have yet become a highly integrated part of self and could be experienced as an outsider. Jaynes also proposes that the consciousness of schizophrenic is much like bicameral consciousness.

  3. It is not necessary to assume that the right amygdala is specialized to produce negatively colored motions and left amygdala positive emotions. Same applies also to the proposed roles of right and left hippocampi. In fact, according to Wikipedia article about lateralization of brain function depression is linked with hyperactive right hemisphere and selective involvement in "processing negative emotions, pessimistic thoughts and unconstructive thinking styles". A relatively hypoactive left hemisphere is said to be "specifically involved in processing pleasurable experiences" and "relatively more involved in decision-making processes". One can interpret this in many manners. The hyper-activity of right hemisphere could tend to cut its connection with its magnetic body and cause a depressive mood.

    Intense nerve pulse activity could cause this if nerve pulse generation breaks coherence of the EEG oscillation due to the oscillating membrane potentials inducing generation of signals to the magnetic body. The reduced neural activity of left hemisphere would mean a better connection to the magnetic flux tube and positive emotional coloring.

  4. Note that this picture conforms with spiritual practices which teach that the manner to achieve piece of mind and bliss is to stop thinking, which indeed means reduce neural activity and more stable connection to the magnetic body. If one takes this conceptualization seriously, one could conclude that the modern hectic society tends to split the connections to the personal magnetic bodies. Since they represent higher levels in the hierarchy of conscious entities, this would lead to a loss of spirituality and also social regression if magnetic bodies are responsible for social structures and cultural evolution.

  5. For about 26 years ago I had also a long-lasting "enlightment" experience - actually two of them. The general structure of these experiences fits with thde proposed general format. The first experience began with the experience of getting in contact with what I spontaneously called Great Mind. I started to make all kinds of questions which I imagined of writing to a monitor that I saw in front of me. Later I realized that the writing was not necessary. I also realized that our communication was severaly estricted by the fact that my language did not yet have words for to express the messages of this Great Mind so that the messages contained a lot of "blancos". I had an experience of understanding but did not know what I understand. I also felt that everything around me has extremely deep meaning. One of the first questions I did was "How long I will live?". From the humorous reply expressed as an endless rapid running of a counter containing a long sequence of digits I understood that there is no death. I also asked "Am I alone in this Universe?". The reply was enigmatic "You are a God!". Later it somehow became clear that this God like entity was actually in some sense me. A possible interpretation could be that a new higher layer to the hierarchy of layers of my personal magnetic body had emerged as this God like creature became a part of my personal magnetic body. Much later I realized that this paradoxical realization was the analog for Brahman=Atman identity of Eastern philosophies.

Consider now the more technical assumptions.

  1. One can assume that right and left brain selves can entangle to form a single self and that magnetic flux tubes between brain hemispheres closely associated with the connecting nerve bundles serve as a correlate for this entanglement. In TGD framework the notion of negentropic entanglement makes sense and means entanglement entropy defined number theoretically is negative rather than being positive as usually. Negentropy Maximization Principle for quantum jumps guarantees the stability of negentropic entanglement. Entanglement probabilities must be rational or at most algebraic numbers or negentropic entanglement.

  2. The basic mechanism would be reconnection of magnetic flux tubes. Typically two parallel connecting flux tubes would touch each other and reconnect to form U-shaped flux tubes representing flux tubes beginning and returning to left (right magnetic body). What is the role of the external magnetic field in this process? Could the closed flux tubes of the external magnetic fields reconnect with those connecting the right hemisphere to left hemisphere. Suppose that magnetic flux tubes indeed serve as geometric correlates for attention interpreted as negentropic entanglement.

    Could one say that the magnet creating chirp signal catches the attention of the right brain magnetic body directed to the right hemisphere? Could the splitting of the connection to the magnetic body create the negative emotions. It is enough that the magnet- magnetic body entanglement becomes entropic to destroy the entanglement in state function reduction if one believes in NMP and perhaps this occurs.

  3. One an ask whether this kind of mechanism could explain also the effects of strong (or order 1 Tesla) fields on brain in transcranial magnetic stimulation or is the standard explanation in terms of eddy currents inducing nerve pulse patterns enough to explain the effects.

3. The model for God helmet experiences

Consider now a the general TGD inspired model explaining God helmet experiences.

  1. The magnetic chirp during the first stage tends to decouple the right hemisphere from its magnetic body and possibly also from the magnetic body of left brain. This alone creates the negatively colored emotions- kind of feeling of being abandoned by God. This could be also general mechanism of depression and the manner to cure depression would be re-establishment of this connection.

    At quantum level the cutting of the magnetic connection would mean the desctruction of entanglement between parts of the two brain hemispheres or between part of right hemisphere and its magnetic body temporarily. This would lead to the splitting of self to right and left brain sub-selves or the loss of the right hemisphere magnetic body entanglement.

  2. If one is ready to take seriously the notion of number theoretic entropy, the minimum condition would be that the magnetic chirp causes the entanglement probabilities become non-rational or even non-algebraic numbers so that the number theoretic entropy does not make sense. Ordinary entanglement entropy is always non-negative and state function reduction reduces the entanglement and self splits to two.

  3. During the second stage the simultaneous activation of both hemispheres by artificial neuronal signals derived from the EEG of amygdala and hippocampus would fuse both hemispheres to single coherent unit so that the mental images of the right hemisphere would contribute to the conscious experience. The coherence could increase from what it is during ordinary wake-up consciousness dominated by verbal communications. "Being nearer to God" alone could give rise to highly positived colored emotions and to a direct experience of seeing the God/light being/magnetic body and explain the experience of meaningfulness and deep understanding without being able to express what one understands. This inability could be simply to the lack of appropriate language. There is no need to assign this experience to the right hippocampus.

For background and pdf version of the text see the chapter TGD Based View about Classical Fields in Relation to Consciousness Theory and Quantum Biology.

Persinger's work with God helmet

Anyone - atheist or believer - wanting to learn about Persinger's work and the basic insights of neuro-theology should listen the extremely inspiring talk God and the Brain - The Persinger 'God Helmet', The Brain, and visions of God by Todd Murphy. Persinger's work (for references to the articles by Persinger and collaborators see the Wikipedia article about God helmet) suggests that the temporal pattern of the modulation of magnetic field strength (FM would be in question for slow variations) is important. We do not however know the "code". Also the strength of the magnetic field can be important. Note that the effects of very weak ELF em fields on vertebrate brain take place in amplitude windows.

The modulation of magnetic field would probably induce FM of cyclotron frequencies. The model for hearing suggests this kind of modulation as a manner to represents the frequencies of the sound wave. Also phase information is very important: time reversed speech sounds very different as normal speech but has the same power spectrum. Modulations would be slow in the time scales defined by the audible frequency range. .1 seconds would represent lower limit for the variation rate of modulation. Audible frequencies above 20 Hz.

1. God helmet

God helmet or Koren helmet named after its inventor is the device used by Persinger and collaborators to study the effects of magnetic field on consciousness. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is not in question: TCMS uses fields of order Tesla whereas Persinger uses magnetic fields with strength of order .01 Gauss. This is 2 per cent of the nominal value of Earth's magnetic field. There is a coil above both temporal lobes and the active coil rotates counterclockwise.

  1. At the first stage the coil above right temporal lobe rotates counterclockwise. A chirp sequence is used. Chirp means use of an oscillating magnetic field with maximum amplitude about 1 microTesla with oscillation frequency going gradually down. The interpretation is that right-brain self is activated and dominates conscious experiences. The experiences have negative emotional coloring and sometimes the subject person has even fearful experiences.

  2. At second stage both coils rotate counterclockwise. The signal is derived from amygdala and hippocampal EEG. Faraday cage is used to eliminate external electromagnetic perturbations and also sensory deprivation is necessary (subject person is blind-folded and in an acoustic chamber). Earth's magnetic field is present, which might have relevance and is indeed used in experiments related to the hypothesis that the variations in Earth's magnetic field affect consciousness.

    A burst of left brain activity is reported to take place during second stage. Also visitor experience is reported to occur during this period. This can mean meeting of God/light being, of angels, of deceased or of group of "beings", or just sense the presence of some conscious entity. A strong sense of meaning can accompany the experience. 80 per cent of subjec persons experience at least the sense of presence.

2. Persinger's experiments and cyclotron frequencies

A more quantitative description of the God helmet experiment assuming that cyclotron frequencies are essential goes as follows.

  1. The field strength used by Persinger is of the order .01 Gauss and very weak and different from Bend=.2 Gauss which is .4BE with BE=.5 Gauss the nominal value of the Earth's magnetic field. Cyclotron frequencies are by a factor of order 1/20 smaller than for Bend. This gives .75 Hz for Ca++.

    From this it is clear that the changes of cyclotron frequencies would be small in static external field in Persinger's experiments and could be treated as a small perturbation. External magnetic field could superpose with Bend=.2 Gauss and affect cyclotron states and induce transitions between them. This would induce effects on EEG visible as frequency modulations. It seems that the period for the oscillation of B must be longer than cyclotron period for this picture to make sense.

  2. One expects a fractal hierarchy of field strengths for endogenous magnetic fields and B≈ .01 Gauss could correspond to higher levels of consciousness so that cyclotron frequencies for these fields would be important. In this case the external magnetic field would not be a small perturbation. The cyclotron frequencies of DNA strand carrying charge density of 2 elementary charges per nucleotide from the phosphates depend only weakly on the length of DNA strand and are about 1 Hz in Bend. Could the cyclotron radiation from cyclotron states associated with the external magnetic field induce interaction with DNA cyclotron states in field Bend=.2 Gauss?

  3. Consider next the time scales. The stimulation of right brain lasts during the first stage last about half an hour. There are however many lacking bits of data.

    1. In what range are the values of the rotation frequency for the magnetic field? ELf frequencies are used. If EEG frequencies are in question the rotation should be slower what the lowest EEG frequency involved and below 1 turn per second.

    2. The rotated magnetic field is time dependent. Chirp sequences are used to stimulate temporal lobe. What is the duration of single chirp and the frequency range covered during chirp? A good guess is that the frequency range is that of EEG. The natural expectation is that the duration of chirp is much longer than the periods in the frequency range considered. This would mean that one scan entire frequency range and that it makes sense to say that the changes of frequency during chirp is slow as compared to the instantaneous frequency.

    3. EEG signals from left amygdala or hippocampus are used to stimulate both temporal lobes during the second stage. This means that their natural frequency scale should be in the range 1-100 Hz. These time scales would be shorter than the time scale of order 1 second assignal to Ca++. This suggests that small aplitude modulation of the cyclotron frequencies in EEG range is in question. The signals sent to the magnetic body would be determined by this modulation and at least in the second stage this modification would carry information.

3. Persinger's explanation

Persinger's own explanation for the findings relies on what might be called neurotheology.

  1. The basic claim of Persinger is that the experiences in question are produced by brain so that meeting of God would not be real. Todd Murphy emphasizesthat it is actually impossible to conclude anything about the existence or non-existence of God on basis of these experiments. He however claims that evolution would have developed for brain the ability to produce visions of God which often accompany near death experiences and make it easier to accept the unavoidablity of the biological death. The reader can decide whether these two statements are consistent or not.

  2. The general idea is that both right and left amygdala, which are the most sensitive parts of the brain because the membrane potential is nearest to the threshold for nerve pulse generation. The right hippocampus is assumed to be responsible for non-verbal, "silent" thinking and left brain hemisphere to verbal thinking. This general picture is used by Todd Murphy to understand the conscious experiences accompanying death process about which near death experiences give a information. The experiences generated by God helmet during the first stage would be akin to the fearful emotions associated with near death experiences (NDE). The experiences during the second stage bring in mind the spiritual experiences accompanying death process and having strong positive emotional coloring.

  3. Persinger and Murphy propose that left amygdala is specialized to produce positive emotions (happiness, bliss, and even experience of encountering God or almost synonymously light being). Right amygdala would be specialized to produce negative emotions (such as fear and horror) and one can assign with it also depressive mood. This is not a generally accepted theory. If one accepts it, the natural question is whether right amygdala could serve as a kind of entropic dump pit and left amygdala as as a highly negentropic structure. The empirical data does not force the poor right amygdala to be a whole-daily sufferer.

Consider now the explanation of the experiences induced by God helmet. The lecture by Todd Murphy helps considerably in attempts to understand the gist of the explanation and also helsp to see its problematic aspects.

  1. The selves of right and left brain fuse in some sense to form single self normally. The nerve bundles connecting the brain hemispheres allowing communications between them are essential for this integration. Right brain self is assumed to be sub-ordinate for left brain self. Magnetic pulses during the first period decompose self to two pieces: one could call them right and left self.

  2. During the first stage the mental images from the right brain self become dominating and fearful experiences are due to the fact that right brain amygdala, which is specialized to produce negative emotions, is hyper-active. This phase is believed to break the connection between left and right brain hemispheres. The anecdotal evidence by Todd Murphy suggests a correlation between non-verbal mood of consciousness and negative emotions. One must be however very cautious because extreme fear and horror alone might make impossible not only verbal communication but any coherent action.

  3. During the second stage both left and right brain are stimulated and expected contribute to the mental images of self when the connection between the hemispheres is intact. If I have understood correctly, the proposal is that the splitting of self to separate selves induced during the first phase is present almost permanently during the second phase and that left brain self dominates.

  4. The temporary "intrusion" of the right hemisphere self to the consciousness of left brain self would give rise to visitor experience. Intrusions would mean occasional re-establishment of the connection between hemispheres. One can question the assumption that God experience and the sensed presence represent instances of the same basic experience due to the intrusion. One could also argue that sensed presence is a signal for the breakdown of the connection and is created by the realization that there is also another self using the same biological body.

  5. The model of Todd Murphy for near death experiences would be that right amygdala can give rise to extremely frightening experiences but that the flow of the information to left amygdala transforms this experience to its emotional opposite. The right hippocampus suggested to be responsible for "silent" thinking would be responsible to the experiences of deep meaningfulness and of understanding. To my opinion this picture is too complex and involves too many ad hoc assumptions.

Somehow my personal feeling is that this model is not quite correct. For instance, I do not understand the meaning "intrusion"? This could be of course be just my misunderstanding. Also the hypothesis about the specialization of left and right amygdala looks strange. In the next blurb I will describe the TGD inspired interpretation of Persinger's findings.

For background and pdf version of the text see the new chapter TGD Based View about Classical Fields in Relation to Consciousness Theory and Quantum Biology of "TGD and EEG".

TGD Based View about Classical Fields in Relation to Consciousness Theory and Quantum Biology

In TGD Universe gauge fields are replaced with topological field quanta. Examples are topological light rays, magnetic/electric flux tubes and sheets, and flux quanta carrying both magnetic and electric fields. Flux quanta form a fractal hierarchy in the sense that there are flux quanta inside flux quanta. It is natural to assume quantization of Kähler magnetic flux. Braiding and reconnection are the basic topological operations for flux quanta.

The basic question is how the basic notions assigned with the classical gauge and gravitational fields understood in standard sense generalize in TGD framework.

  1. Superposition and interference of the classical fields is very natural in Maxwell electrodynamics and certainly experimentally verified phenomena. Also the notion of hologram relies crucially on the notion of interference. How can one describe the effects explained in terms of superposition of fields in a situation in which the theory is extremely non-linear and all classical gauge fields are expressible in terms of CP2 coordinates and their gradients? It is also rather clear that the preferred extremals for Kähler action decompose to space-time regions representing space-time correlates for quanta. The superposition of classical fields in Maxwellian sense is impossible.

    How can one cope with this situation? The answer is based on simple observation: only the effects of the classical fields superpose. There is no need for the fields to superpose. Together with the notion of many-sheeted space-time this leads to elegant description of interference effects without any need to assume that linearization is a good approximation.

  2. Topological quantization brings in also braiding and reconnection of magnetic flux tubes as basic operations for classical fields. These operations for flux tubes have also Maxwellian counterparts at the level of field lines. Braiding and reconnection are in a central role in TGD Universe and especially so in in TGD inspired theory of consciousness and quantum biology. The challenge is to build a coherent overall phenomenological view about the role of topologically quantized classical fields in biology and neuroscience. For instance, one can ask what is the precise formulation for the notion of conscious hologram and whether magnetic flux tubes could serve as correlates of entanglement (or at least negentropic entanglement suggested by the number theoretic vision and identified as a basic signature of living matter).

  3. Topological quantization and the notion of magnetic body are especially important in TGD inspired model of EEG. The attempt to understand the findings of Persinger from the study of what is known as God helmet leads to a considerable progress in the understanding the possible role of topologically quantized classical fields in biology and neuro-science.

I do not bother to type more and instead give a link to the new chapter TGD Based View about Classical Fields in Relation to Consciousness Theory and Quantum Biology.

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