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Psychiatry Res. 2000 Dec 22;100(3):139-54.

Brain electric correlates of strong belief in paranormal phenomena: intracerebral EEG source and regional Omega complexity analyses.

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The KEY Institute for Brain-Mind Research, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich, Switzerland.


The neurocognitive processes underlying the formation and maintenance of paranormal beliefs are important for understanding schizotypal ideation. Behavioral studies indicated that both schizotypal and paranormal ideation are based on an overreliance on the right hemisphere, whose coarse rather than focussed semantic processing may favor the emergence of 'loose' and 'uncommon' associations. To elucidate the electrophysiological basis of these behavioral observations, 35-channel resting EEG was recorded in pre-screened female strong believers and disbelievers during resting baseline. EEG data were subjected to FFT-Dipole-Approximation analysis, a reference-free frequency-domain dipole source modeling, and Regional (hemispheric) Omega Complexity analysis, a linear approach estimating the complexity of the trajectories of momentary EEG map series in state space. Compared to disbelievers, believers showed: more right-located sources of the beta2 band (18.5-21 Hz, excitatory activity); reduced interhemispheric differences in Omega complexity values; higher scores on the Magical Ideation scale; more general negative affect; and more hypnagogic-like reveries after a 4-min eyes-closed resting period. Thus, subjects differing in their declared paranormal belief displayed different active, cerebral neural populations during resting, task-free conditions. As hypothesized, believers showed relatively higher right hemispheric activation and reduced hemispheric asymmetry of functional complexity. These markers may constitute the neurophysiological basis for paranormal and schizotypal ideation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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