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Cortex. 2008 Nov-Dec;44(10):1353-63. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2007.08.024. Epub 2008 Aug 15.

The transliminal brain at rest: baseline EEG, unusual experiences, and access to unconscious mental activity.

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  • 1The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Pomona, NJ 08240, USA.


Transliminality reflects individual differences in the threshold at which unconscious processes or external stimuli enter into consciousness. Individuals high in transliminality possess characteristics such as magical ideation, belief in the paranormal, and creative personality traits, and also report the occurrence of manic/mystic experiences. The goal of the present research was to determine if resting brain activity differs for individuals high versus low in transliminality. We compared baseline EEG recordings (eyes-closed) between individuals high versus low in transliminality, assessed using The Revised Transliminality Scale of Lange et al. (2000). Identifying reliable differences at rest between high- and low-transliminality individuals would support a predisposition for transliminality-related traits. Individuals high in transliminality exhibited lower alpha, beta, and gamma power than individuals low in transliminality over left posterior association cortex and lower high alpha, low beta, and gamma power over the right superior temporal region. In contrast, when compared to individuals low in transliminality, individuals high in transliminality exhibited greater gamma power over the frontal-midline region. These results are consistent with prior research reporting reductions in left temporal/parietal activity, as well as the desynchronization of right temporal activity in schizotypy and related schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Further, differences between high- and low-transliminality groups extend existing theories linking altered hemispheric asymmetries in brain activity to a predisposition toward schizophrenia, paranormal beliefs, and unusual experiences.

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