What if there was physical evidence of a center in the brain whose configuration tracks with an individual’s intuitive capabilities?
In early 2018, researchers caught wind of a scientific study being done by Dr. Garry Nolan, Rachford & Carlota Professor in the Dept. of Microbiology & Immunology at Stanford School of Medicine, and Dr. Christopher ‘Kit’ Green, a physician in private forensic medical practice, and affiliated with the Departments of Diagnostic Radiology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at the Wayne State School of Medicine and Detroit Medical Center.
This was partly unearthed in a book entitled Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis written by author, journalist, and national security reporter Annie Jacobsen. In her book, she interviewed both Dr. Garry Nolan and Dr. Christopher Kit Green, initially due to Dr. Green's earlier work on remote viewing, but during the book preparation process apparently found Dr. Kit Green was still involved in some fascinating studies. Dr. Green says in the book,
"I'm interested in the notion of people injured physically by anomalous events.” Dr. Green goes on, "Often these events are perceived as [involving] unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, drones, high energy radio frequencies that confront people face-to-face and cannot be explained."
The study involved, among others, a group of individuals termed these days as “Experiencers:” individuals experiencing Anomalous Mental Phenomena perceived through the senses including hallucinations, seeing beings and orbs, or hearing messages. One potential goal of the study involved identifying personality commonalities and, maybe, if “experiences” followed families—implying there might be a component that genetics plays in the experience process itself. Nolan and Green insisted that the study was not about determining the factual nature of the experience, just to determine if there were medical or familial relationships. There was also a Phenomenon Radio program hosted by Linda Milton Howe and John Burroughs which featured an interview with Annie Jacobsen discussing this very topic.
In late November of 2018 Dr. Nolan gave a presentation at Harvard Medical School's Consortium for Space Genetics entitled “Can Genetic Differences in Intuition and Cognition Drive Success in Space?” I caught up with Dr. Nolan to discuss the details of his presentation at Harvard for the contents and implications of this data. What I was told was both exciting and intriguing:
“We had groups of patients who objectively had a higher density of neuronal connection between the head of the caudate and the putamen.”
The caudate-putamen is a defined area in the brain based in the basal ganglia. Originally thought up until a decade ago to be mostly involved in motor control, more recently the caudate-putamen has been shown to also be involved with decision making, higher cognitive function, and intuition: non-conscious processing of sparse information. It is not too far a reach to assume that if humans did in fact have ESP capabilities, this area of the brain would make for a suitable candidate involved in processing information derived through anomalous means.
The group of 105 patients were made up of 60% male and 40% female individuals whom were among a group of individuals evaluated through high-field MRI brain scans. These patients selected were psychologically evaluated by Dr. Green and some met with Dr. Nolan. The major observation was that, apparently, the area of caudate-putamen in many of the individuals in the study was greatly enhanced over that of a reference “control” group of ~100 randomly chosen individuals. The connectivity, or density, of increased connections between the caudate and putamen ranged from slightly above normal to up to 8 times the control range. Interestingly, when family members were included as controls, it turned out that the feature of increased caudate-putamen connectivity was also found in some of the included family members. The MRI's of the patients (study participants and control MRIs) were read “blind” by professionals trained in brain physiology and reading of MRIs. In biological terms, the individuals with enhanced connectivity might be classed as hypermorphs, rather than the normal baseline caudate-putamen connectivity.
This signature of high connectivity in the caudate-putamen consists of high functioning individuals—some of whom reported visual and auditory phenomena which include seeing orbs, voices, and entities. These were classed as hallucinations for the purposes of the study. The high connectivity in the caudate-putamen area was correlated, at least in this highly biased cohort, to high IQ, enhanced intuition, high performers, and seems to occur clustered in a few of the families they were able to access.
Dr. Garry Nolan reports that a peer reviewed paper will be coming at some point in the future, but stresses that the data should be at this point considered as extremely preliminary. He felt comfortable enough, he said, to release the information publicly so others can begin to think about the implications. Dr. Nolan also commented that,
"Objectively, the connections [in the caudate-putamen] are real (note that Dr. Green is a trained forensic neurologist). What these connectivity patterns mean in relation to intuition and cognitive function will need to involve neurological studies that involve disciplines of neurophysiology such as functional MRI and more".
When pressed about the concept of how anomalous information might enter human consciousness, earlier in 2018 during a conversation with Dr. Nolan he speculated,
"Antenna are HYPOTHETICAL nervous system components that READ/SENSE and TRANSMIT. I don't think they would be nerves per se. I think they are COMPONENTS of nerves in some people. The idea is that different people are connected to their antenna in different ways. Some more attuned to sight, some to sounds, feelings, etc."
Dr. Nolan remarked in his slides that what he and Dr. Green found in terms of neural connectivity might have been discovered (or intuited) previously by at least two others.
One of these individuals was the distinguished Oleg Sergeivich Adrianov who happened to be a world renowned neuroscientist from the former Soviet Union, and who had over 70 English publications during the span of his career. He was founder of many FSU Academies and Institutes and headed the commission on the anatomy of Lenin’s brain. Oleg noted “Our interest (in Caudate-Putamen over-expression) is based on the literary data (sic)… it participates in higher integrative activity…”. Oleg also made the following comments regarding this specific region of the brain; “of the frontal (neo)cortex for synthesis of single signals for programming future activity” and “and comparing its results with behavioural reactions of ‘foreseeing the future’ phenomena…” Perhaps one of his most telling assertions was “… Numerous clinical data suggests direct relation of the human brain to a higher psychic function.”
Perhaps even more of a startling revelation and coincidence would be is that as early as the 1960’s intuitive and PhD. Viola Pettit-Neal, as stated in a 1971 interview, made such comments as “The caudate nucleus deals with the head antennae-millions of antennae which in the future will deal with the ability of all the extrasensory perception abilities, such as the ability to see events at a distance and the ability for telepathic contact.” Viola also claimed in her book, “The sending and receiving station for telepathic contact is located in the caudate nucleus.” As well as “There were very fine lines, thousands of them, and the caudate nucleus is like a miniature brain for higher stages of development.” Similar references about these regions of the brain and intuited information were made in her book “Through the Curtain” with Shafica Karagulla, MD.
What might these findings mean for Experiencers, people interested in Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, academia, cutting-edge science, or scientists willing to challenge their curiosity? Is there truly a center in the brain responsible for what we consider extrasensory perception? Is information in part distilled and processed in the caudate-putamen, and those with higher connectivity might have access to forms of intuition that others do not? In any regard, these findings are astounding and at the least we should continue to pay attention to this direction of research. Perhaps the world of science, and the paranormal, might begin to find a meeting point through work like this.
(Most grateful and personal thanks to Dr. Garry Nolan for taking the time to discuss this fascinating information and data with me—and his willingness to share his current speculations. And of course, we are indebted to Dr. Christopher Kit Green and his colleagues for all their decades of effort investigating cutting-edge areas of the science of consciousness and cognition.)
- James Iandoli
Rebellion Upon the Fringe and "Looking Awry."
In part 1 of this 2 part series, I presented the notion that UFOs, and the UFO subculture, are cast out to the fringes of culture. The very notion of the Other is uncomfortable to mainstream discourse, and the community which often engages in the mythologizing of that Other, becomes also problematic.
The UFO community is inherently rebellious, and mainstream culture is duty bound to put the rebellion down. It challenges every major established power system, and while ideas of flying saucers and aliens will not undo these power systems, it creates an entire population of individuals who begin to, as Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek brilliantly puts, “look awry” at the world around them. They begin to see, much like Nada in They Live (1988), through the illusory filters of the ideological reality that has been constructed for them.
Plato, the Greek philosopher, explores this in the allegory of The Cave. A person who is born and raised in a cave their entire lives and is only shown shadows of the world projected onto the wall by a fire, believes that to be reality. If released from this prison, they venture outside and see the world for what it truly is, would the others in the cave believe their story if they returned to tell them? Would the others in the cave shift their perception of reality, or would they choose to stay in the darkness?
In dealing with the construct of the extraterrestrial, we come to a very specific conclusion. It, whatever it may be, directly challenges our reality. It problematizes a duality that we inherently assume to be natural. The UFO and the alien are both present and absent, real and illusion, but to us, it calls into question the illusionary difference between human and non-human.
As anthropologist Debbora Battaglia suggests, the alien Other is a “lived experience.” It is a construct that is everywhere. The alien, the flying saucer, UFOs, and various other paranormal symbols, appear in film and television, video games, corporate logos, beverage containers, laptop stickers, smartphone cases, and much more. These mythological realities are entrenched in popular culture, and perhaps more interestingly, under the control of human economic and social systems. One can possess the alien or the UFO, buy it, wear it and slap it on a backpack. I can master the Other and take ownership over it. Yet, simultaneously, people experience a very real moment where the Other has taken control over them. Anxiety dwells in the gap between power; I can “control” the meaning of the UFO, all the while, aware that it can also “control” me.
Battaglia points out that this “ET effect” is intersubjective, and even though a whole subculture exists which potentially challenges the mainstream, the flesh and blood alien itself comes from a very human origin. UFO cults, conspiracy theorists and Ufologists are “prospecting starward for social connection…being both of this world and out of it.”
The UFO narrative at times has significant variation, but a few consistent through lines exist. One of those through lines regards the UFO as sovereign object which seems to have significant “diplomatic” freedom. The UFO as object does not obey laws regarding sovereign airspace or national borders, nor do the extraterrestrial beings apply for visas before landing on foreign soil to scoop up plant samples, mutilate cows, or abduct people.
If we look at the UFO phenomenon as a whole, the alien Other, whatever it may be, may not recognize the construct of a national government. Regardless of whether the UFO phenomenon is physical or mystical, the events that seem to present themselves throughout the UFO and contactee narrative indicate extreme technological and/or intellectual abilities.
On a broader philosophical level, it is silly to assume that human deference to a ruling body, such as a nation, state, or government, would be the same for another intelligence with a totally separate evolutionary path, assuming that intelligence is even biological to begin with. The concept of ‘government’ is a human construct that appeared via a very specific human political evolution. This does not mean that a political system of governance is universal. In simple terms, we cannot assume that another intelligence would consider government as a legitimate form of social organization, assuming "they" or "it" even have social organization. While government is a fundamental aspect of modern human civilization, it may not exist anywhere but here on Earth.
The result of alien visitation then would call into question the concept of nationalism, state loyalty, and even citizenship itself. It would call into question the very nature of society and culture. To put it plainly, humanity could become a planet of stateless refugees. Ironically, the extraterrestrial outsider would make outsiders of all humanity. The ideological prerogative to consider oneself a member of a specific country, for example, would seem silly. A citizen of one nation would no longer need to differentiate themselves from another. While a pessimist could argue that xenophobia is a part of human nature, that anxiety of the other would potentially turn from other humans to the radical alien other; an exophobia of sorts.
Beyond a potential dissolution of citizenship to a particular state (or perhaps the development of a ‘citizen of Earth’ ideology) and government, so too would the human concept of the self be altered forever. The ideologies and illusions of what it means to be human would change insurmountably.
According to theorist Jodi Dean, this entire notion forces people to reassess their own identity. She writes that,
“the alien reassures us that everything is not up for grabs, but anything could be. Some things are certain. We just don’t know what they are.”
Fundamentally, the perception of alien visitation, whether it is real or not, puts humanity into a conflict with itself. Fact and fiction are pushed to the edge when in contact with the alien Other.
The key position of the scientific and political cultures, in other words, the mainstream, is that aliens do not exist, at least not in any way that allows them to interact with humanity, because they would call into question the validity of those establishments. However, if a person comes to the table with an open mind and begins to consider that extraterrestrials may exist and are interacting with humanity, they are pulled into a battle with the self. Regardless of whether someone knows or believes the Earth is being visited, that individual opens themselves up to a possible shift in perception. A sliver of doubt in the contemporary world order, in science and nationhood, in the illusion of mainstream ideology. It is all well and good to hypothesize that extraterrestrials may exist somewhere far away in the distant cosmos; however, to suggest that they are coming here is unthinkable.
Treading down this path puts humanity into contention with itself. The phantom of the self becomes lost in the gap between what it means to be human and alien. To look deeply into the UFO phenomenon, deconstructing the ideologies given us by the media or the charlatan Ufological gurus, we realize that we are staring into a mirror. The extraterrestrial stands as a direct opposite to humanity, yet, simultaneously subverts "us versus them."
That is not to say that humans and supposed aliens would be the same on a biological or materialist level; rather, if we are correct in saying that the extraterrestrial challenges our current paradigm of reality, and the zeitgeist of human social and cultural constructs, does it not then call into question the very nature of what it means to be human? Here, our assumptions concerning what is real and what is not are thrown into a disjointed middle ground, a gap between who and what we are.
The UFO subculture, that group which has essentially climbed into this gap, or fallen into it, is in such a state; human and non-human, existing yet simultaneously not existing. Perhaps this is why the UFO community, the subculture, is so difficult to pin down, to be able to clearly ascertain who is a member and who is not. Moreover, this is why it is so dangerous to established official culture. The UFO community does not exist, rather, it haunts, and it is impossible to kill a ghost.