Our results can’t be attributed to suggestion. – A blog By Dr. Michael Persinger


The results of our experiments cannot be attributed to experimenter suggestion or subject suggestibility. – A Blog by Dr. Michael Persinger.

Question: What results have you had that cannot be explained by suggestion?

Answer: We have seen many effects that cannot be explained by suggestion or suggestibility.  These have been done with people, rats, worms and living cells maintained (cultured) in petri dishes.

One very clear illustration is seen in our study that found that our magnetic field stimulation actually enhanced hypnotizability (Tiller, 1994) with a pulsed field, which we replicated two years later (Healey, 1996) with a burst-firing pattern.    We took measures of the suggestibility of each subject using an established instrument for its measurement as part of these experiments (Spiegel, 1978).  Altering suggestibility through suggestion is a highly improbable scenario, so the results of these studies ruled it out as an explanation for our magnetic stimulation effects in humans approximately twenty years ago.

For many of our experiments that created the sensed presence, we measured suggestibility directly using a well-established protocol (Spiegel, 1978).  We found that analyzing the data for the person’s hypnotizability score did not reduce the intensity of the sensed presence produced by the specific magnetic field pattern. The key paper was called “Experimental facilitation of the sensed presence is predicted by specific patterns of applied magnetic fields not by suggestibility: re-analysis of 19 experiments”. It was published in the International Journal of Neuroscience (St-Pierre, LS, 2006).

We have observed clinical effects that cannot be explained by suggestion. For example, Baker-Price (1996) found differential changes in the EEG patterns of patients who had sustained head injuries, depending upon the specific neural location where the field was applied.  The experiment also found a significant improvement of depression and a reduction of phobias.  We replicated this experiment in 2003 (Baker-Price, 2003), with very similar results and follow-up six weeks after the experiment was completed.  Tsang et al (2009) showed clearly with relatively crude psychometric measurements that infer emotional profiles that different patterned fields produced different mood states. Attributing these results to patient suggestibility leads inevitably to the conclusion that  depression can be treated through suggestion, a conclusion unsupported by any evidence nor predicted by any hypotheses.

We have also shown clear changes in delta and theta power over the temporal lobes during magnetic field stimulation (and more accurate brain wave measures, such as QEEG),  (Corradini et al  2013), using a completely separate method for producing the signals.  Eliciting the same effects with both different hardware and software also allows confirmation that our results that cannot be attributed to hardware artifacts.

However, the most powerful demonstration that the electromagnetic effects are not due to suggestion is the effect upon cells. We have found in controlled studies that the same pattern using in our sensed presence experiments slows the rate of a variety of different types of cancer cells in cultures (Hu, et al., 2010, Bruckner, 2015). These fields inhibited only cancer cell growth but did not retard the growth of normal cells.  We have found this same field that produced the sensed presence works by very specific channels within membranes that allow calcium to enter the cell (Buckner et al, 2015). The timing of the point durations that compose the specific field pattern must be precise or there is no effect.

Our studies using lab rats cannot be attributed to suggestion as rats cannot be said to be “suggestible”.

Nevertheless, we carry out blind analysis of rat brain sections in our rat studies, in which the investigator does not know which brain regions may have been affected by a procedure or the magnitude of the differences predicted between the rat brains exposed to the magnetic fields and those which were not (Fournier, 2012). In rat studies investigating differences in rat behavior following stimulation with magnetic signals, the experimenter observing their behavior is kept blind to the experimental condition (Whissell, 2007, McKay, 2004, Bureau, 1994, Babik, 1992).  Our examination of microscope slides from rat subjects and controls is also done under blind conditions (Cook, 1999). We have also carried out similar procedures with worms (planarium – Dugesia sp.) (Mulligan, 2012).

The false impression that our effects come from suggestibility of our experimental participants originates from  a paper published by Granqvist et al..  That publication reported an incorrectly configured experiment in which our neural stimulation signals were run at too high a velocity (their computer wasn’t calibrated to the software) and for too short a time (only ten minutes instead of the twenty we normally use as the minimum stimulation).   There were other issues, but these were the most significant.  Granqvist et al explained the difference between our results and theirs by the speculation that our results were due to suggestibility in our subjects. Note that Granqvist et al did not actually measure their subject’s suggestibility.   Their explanation is entirely speculative and ultimately incorrect.

I hope this blog will clarify that we are fully aware of the need to prevent experimenter suggestions and that our results are not due to to suggestibility in our subjects.

Dr. Michael A. Persinger
Full Professor
Behavioural Neuroscience, Biomolecular Sciences and Human Studies
Departments of Psychology and Biology
Laurentian University,
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada P3E 2C6
Email: mpersinger@laurentian.ca and drpersinger@neurocog.ca
NOTE: This blog is hosted by a colleague.



Tiller, S. G., and Michael A. Persinger. “Enhanced hypnotizability by cerebrally applied magnetic fields depends upon the order of hemispheric presentation: An anistropic effect.” International journal of neuroscience 79.3-4 (1994): 157-163.

Healey, Faye, Michael A. Persinger, and S. A. Koren. “Enhanced hypnotic suggestibility following application of burst-firing magnetic fields over the right temporoparietal lobes: A replication.” International journal of neuroscience 87.3-4 (1996): 201-207.

Spiegel, H. & Spiegel, D. (1978) Trance and treatment. Basic Books: N.Y.

Pierre, LS St, and M. A. Persinger. “Experimental facilitation of the sensed presence is predicted by the specific patterns of the applied magnetic fields, not by suggestibility: re-analyses of 19 experiments.” International Journal of Neuroscience 116.19 (2006): 1079-1096.

Baker-Price, L. A., and Michael A. Persinger. “Weak, but complex pulsed magnetic fields may reduce depression following traumatic brain injury.”  Perceptual and motor skills 83.2 (1996): 491-498.

Baker-Price, Laura, and Michael A. Persinger. “Intermittent burst-firing weak (1 microTesla) magnetic fields reduce psychometric depression in patients who sustained closed head injuries: A replication and electroencephalographic validation.” Perceptual and motor skills 96.3 (2003): 965-974.

Tsang, Eric W., Stanley A. Koren, and Michael A. Persinger. “Specific patterns of weak (1 microTesla) transcerebral complex magnetic fields differentially affect depression, fatigue, and confusion in normal volunteers.” Electromagnetic biology and medicine 28.4 (2009): 365-373.

Corradini, Paula L.; Mark W. G. Collins; Dr. Michael A. Persinger  “Facilitation of Declarative Memory and Congruent Brain States by Applications of Weak, Patterned Magnetic Fields: The Future of Memory Access?”  International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 4, No. 13; November 2014

Hu, Jing H., et al. “Growth of injected melanoma cells is suppressed by whole body exposure to specific spatial-temporal configurations of weak intensity magnetic fields.” International journal of radiation biology 86.2 (2010): 79-88.

Buckner CA, Buckner AL, Koren SA, Persinger MA, Lafrenie RM (2015) Inhibition of Cancer Cell Growth by Exposure to a Specific Time-Varying Electromagnetic Field Involves T-Type Calcium Channels. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0124136. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124136

Whissell, P.D. , Persinger, M.A.; “Developmental effects of perinatal exposure to extremely weak 7 Hz magnetic fields and nitric oxide modulation in the Wistar albino rat ” International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience 25 (2007) 433–439

McKay, B. E., and M. A. Persinger. “Normal spatial and contextual learning for ketamine-treated rats in the pilocarpine epilepsy model.” Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 78.1 (2004): 111-119.

Bureau, Y. R. J., O. Peredery, and M. A. Persinger. “Concordance of quantitative damage within the diencephalon and telencephalon following systemic pilocarpine (380 mg/kg) or lithium (3 mEq/kg)/pilocarpine (30 mg/kg) induced seizures.” Brain Research 648.2 (1994): 265-269.

Missaghi, Babik, Pauline M. Richards, and Michael A. Persinger. “Severity of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis in rats depends upon the temporal contiguity between limbic seizures and inoculation.” Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 43.4 (1992): 1081-1086.

Cook, Lisa L., and M. A. Persinger. “Infiltration of lymphocytes in the limbic brain following stimulation of subclinical cellular immunity and low dosages of lithium and a cholinergic agent.” Toxicology letters 109.1 (1999): 77-85.

Mulligan, Bryce P. , Noa Gang, Glenn H. Parker, Michael A. Persinger  “Magnetic Field Intensity/Melatonin-Molarity Interactions: Experimental Support with Planarian (Dugesia sp.) Activity for a Resonance-Like Process” Open Journal of Biophysics, 2012, 2, 137-143

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One Response to Our results can’t be attributed to suggestion. – A blog By Dr. Michael Persinger

  1. Pingback: Reply to “Neuroscience for the Soul”. | Sacred Pathways - Blogs in Neurotheology

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