and Comments on Transformation of Brain Activity in Altered States of
Consciousness by 0. I. Koyokina, MISAHA Newsletter #20-21, January-June, 1998
M. Allan Cooperstein, Ph.D.
In Cooperstein, Allan (1999,
January-December). Observations and comments on the transformation of
brain activity in altered states of consciousness by O. I. Koyokina (pp. 16-17).
MISAHA Newsletter. Monterey, CA: Monterey Institute for the Study of Alternative
how little is known about the psychophysiology and neurophysiology of the
central nervous system in altered states of consciousness, Dr. Koyokina's
research is a welcome addition to our scant information base. However, in
reading her article I had a number of reactions that I wish to share:
article is written inappropriately for readers not familiar with
neurophysiology and neurophysiological measurements. We cannot assume that
the majority of MISAHA subscribers can interpret the information presented
or its implications.
literature review is extremely narrow and limited and primarily related to
neurophysiological measures of brain functioning associated with the
altered consciousness and purported parapsychological phenomena. Studies
conducted in other countries are not considered (J. Ehrenwald, Psi
Phenomena, Hemispheric Dominance and the Existential Shift. In Psi and
States of Awareness [B. Shapin & L. Coly, Eds., Parapsychology Foundation,
New York, 1978], S. L. Fahrion, M. Wirkus & P. Pooley. EEG Amplitude,
Brain Mapping, & Synchrony in & Between a Bioenergy Practitioner
& Client During Healing, Subtle Energies, 3, 1, 1992, pp. 19‑5
1, H Sugano, S. Uchida & 1, Kuramoto, A New Approach to the Study of
Subtle Energies, Subtle Energies, 5, 2, 1994, 143‑166; J. L.
Whitton, "Ramp Functions" in EEG Power Spectra During Actual or
Attempted Paranormal Events, New Horizon, 1, 1974, pp. 174‑183).
tends to be confusing. "Bioenergy" (as stated on page 8) should
not be assumed as describing ordinary bioelectrical or biochemical
energies as other interpretations exist (e.g., Benor, D. J., 1984, Fields
and Energies Related to Healing: A Review of Soviet and Western Studies.
Parapsychology Research; Grad, B. R., 1987, Healing, Depression, and the
Bioenergetic Paradigm Spiritual Frontiers 19:154-158; Krieger, D., 1976,
Healing by the Laying-on of Hands as a Facilitator of Bioenergetic
Exchange: The Response of in vivo Human Hemoglobin, International Journal
for Psychoenergetic Systems 1(3):121-129; Krippner, S., 1985, Folk Healing
Practices and "Energy Related" Medicine. Annual Medical
Symposium, Association for Research and Enlightenment Clinic. Phoenix, AZ,
January 27). In my research (Cooperstein, M. A. 1990, The myths of
healing: A descriptive analysis and taxonomy of transpersonal healing
experiences. Unpublished doctoral dissertation Saybrook Institute, San
Francisco, CA.) I indicated that belief in "energy" was one of
the primary beliefs found among healers and not necessarily with any
consistency or any agreement. This same error applies to references to
such terms as "psi" which, although used in a number of
instances, is not defined.
research predicted a shift towards decreased sympathetic arousal,
increased parasympathetic activity, and a shift away from ordinary
cerebral activities including reduced control of the dominant, verbal-analytic
hemisphere, increased hemispheric equivalence and the production of
specific power spectra that may be related to purported
healing/influencing or psi phenomena. The reduced activity of the dominant
hemisphere may be a precursor to the appearance of hemispheric
synchronization and changes in power spectra. The researcher reports that,
during the initial stages of ASC induction, muscular and psychological
relaxation were detected with alpha rhythm detected in the frontal areas
(problem solving, emotion, complex thought) with increased amplitude and
low frequency (3-4 Hz) waves. The greatest amplitude is shown at Cz and
Fz, but the meaning of these abbreviations or the functions they detect
is not provided clearly, although the researcher states that during the
first stage of transition to an altered state, there are increases in low
frequency power spectrum--delta and theta rhythms-- over the entire brain
surface while power spectra in alpha and beta regions decreased. She
describes this as characteristic of an inactive inhibited state of the
cortex with "splashes" of high-amplitude low-frequency waves
alternating with periods typical for normal awakening for phases of dreaming.
This is consistent with the results of my research and that of Michael
Winkelman (1984, A cross-cultural study of magico-religious practitioners.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Irvine).
of interest are the measures of the dipole sources in relation to deep
brain structures that are interhemispheric. These may include the
reticular formation and medial thalamus. The author states "the
observed inhibited state of the cerebral areas of brain which is
associated with the inhibition of Psychical in the transient states of
ASC, most likely provides a necessary background for reordering some
functions and internal connections in the brain related to the opening
of alternative channels of perception and information transfer."
predicted in other writings, the data here seem to indicate a shift from
emphasis on higher-functioning cortical activities (discursive thought,
volition, language, reasoning and perception) towards greater midbrain
(thalamic) and brainstem functioning (e.g., arousal level, breathing,
heart rate and blood pressure). Again, this is consistent with other
summarize, despite its shortcomings this is a valuable neurophysiological
first step into the psychophysiology of altered states. However, it
appears seriously lacking in grounding its conceptualization in existing
research and use of obscure, ill-defined and non-operationalized
terminology. To advance her work, the researcher would profit from a more
extensive review of literature. This should also include not only
neurophysiological studies performed in other countries on
parapsychological percipients, but other studies involving the
phenomenology of parapsychological, hypnotic and meditative subjects.
accept the critique of my paper by Dr. Allan Cooperstein and will try to answer
some of the questions posed that. I hope, will clarify our work.
Cooperstein rightfully states, the review of relevant scientific literature in
my article should be much broader. The problem is that until recently scientific
publications on topics such as hypnosis, parapsychology, effects associated with
meditation, etc., were not available in Russian scientific libraries. Only now
these libraries are trying to catch up, but their resources are scarce.
Commercial publishers are busy serving more popular markets. The only source now
available is the Internet and a few Russian Journals who publish predominantly
Russian authors. Thus, Dr. Cooperstein's references are really valuable to me.
interesting part of Dr. Cooperstein's letter is his references to his own
studies. I understand that the EEG changes in the transient state described in
my article were previously observed and reported, and that they are typical for
transition into drowsiness and regular sleep. However, this should not mean that
this transient state is associated only with the inhibition of the cortex. Our
assumption was that during this stage conditions are built for possible eventual
development of processes relevant to the altered state of consciousness (ASC).
My work hints to a possible mechanism of developing the ASC. The sources of
electrical activity in the brain shown in fig.3 seem to form a channel in the
interhemispheric area over the rostral parts of the brain stem.
findings encourage me to call attention to the process of forming the channel
(tunnel) in the ASC that can relate human consciousness with extrasensory
perception. The EEG of a meditating operator (I refer to an original method of
meditation called "flying hamsters") being treated in the
"Brainlock" program shows a gradual (delayed) forming of a channel in
the interhemispheric area directed toward the forehead. The operator being in a
state of deep meditation perceived and reported the channel simultaneously. I
will present a paper on this subject at the conference of the L. L. Vassilliev
Parapsychological Foundation on April 16, 1999.