How consciousness works has always been an intriguing subject in psychology and yet nobody really understands how it works. By the same token not everyone understands quantum physics either.
Inspired by a series of reported experiments and their controversial results, Gabriel Guerrer from the the University of São Paulo, investigated if volunteers could causally affect an optical double-slit system through mental efforts alone. The participants task alternated between intending the increase of the (real-time feedback informed) amount of light diffracted through a specific single slit and relaxing any intention effort.
In this video Guerrer talks about his journey from particle physics to exploring the mystery of consciousness.
Earlier works on consciousness reveals that certain individuals proved to be significantly more successful at influencing the photons’ behaviour. The unique factor in these individuals was that almost all of them were highly experienced in either meditation or some kind of attentional training.
If you are interested about research on consciousness you probably come across the works of Dean Radin, a researcher and author in parapsychology. Radin has been working at the Institute of Noetic Sciences since 2011.
Guerrer’s work is preceded by Radin’s observation on consciousness and double-slit interference pattern. Radin’s earlier works reveal that our attention can affect the wave distribution of photos that are travelling through an array. Radin’s research concentrates on mind-matter interactions on experimentally testing John von Neumann’s (and others) interpretation of the quantum measurement problem (QMP).
The challenge of replication has never been an easy one for consciousness researchers. So Guerrer’s demonstration of the apparent mind over matter effect with similarly high statistical significance is indeed a breakthrough in consciousness studies.
Guerrer concludes that the feedback mechanism simplifies the task description, serving as an interface between the conscious agent and the physical process dynamics. Without it, the task instructions could sound rather abstract causing mental wandering and distractions during the experiment. To simplify, the participants are instructed to always intend the increase of the feedback magnitude during the intention runs. They are informed that a magnitude increase is linked to a physical variation, so by focusing on the feedback, they are indirectly interacting (or trying to) with the light crossing the apparatus. As a secondary role, the feedback is used to arouse the participants’ motivation as they eventually can experience some sort of correlation between the presented intensities and their subjective state, thus reinforcing their attention and intention towards the experimental system.
Dennis Relojo is the founder of Psychreg and is also the Editor-in-Chief of Psychreg Journal of Psychology. Aside from PJP, he sits on the editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals, and is a Commissioning Editor for the International Society of Critical Health Psychology. A Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society, Dennis holds a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Hertfordshire. His research interest lies in the intersection of psychology and blogging. You can connect with him through Twitter @DennisRelojo and his website.