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Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, February 2019

“Experiencers” and the Caudate-Putamen?

by: Brent Raynes

Dr. Garry Nolan

I am pleased to see that mainstream scientists are at least weighing in more and more it seems on the distinguishing features and characteristics of a UFO and paranormal “experiencer” versus a regular control group population. While we may not, for example, have readily available access to an actual “flying saucer” in a lab somewhere for scientists to tinker with and study from top to bottom, we do have access to the “experiencers” who generate the testimony about such things – even claims of contacts with alleged interactive intelligences – be they perceived as ET's, God or gods, angels, demons, ghosts – whatever kind of “presence” or context is attributed to or perceived by such “experiencers.”

Sometime back (1990 actually) in the afterword to Dr. Greg Little's book “People of the Web,” I expressed how I hoped that one day sophisticated brain scans of these “experiencers” would be conducted and provide us vital clues and insights into the reality of these alleged enigmatic occurrences by allowing us to view interior neurological interactions and significant psychic/psychological changes and processes for which many researchers and experiencers have described and documented in numerous accounts. At the time, I was particularly interested in cases where hypnotized “abductees” were reporting how after being hypnotized some of the same symptoms such as fatigue, burning sensations, and skin sensitivity would return. The college professor named John Salter [who recently passed away and is described at the conclusion of this article] shared how after he and his son had missing time and later flashbacks afterwards of their encounter with humanoid beings back in March 1988, that he had a "red welt" on the right side of his neck. Later whenever he would find himself thinking deeply about that experience, the "red welt" would appear again. Just a few days ago, as I write this column, I met a lady “experiencer” in Nashville who described having a UFO close encounter a few years earlier and in recent months of having a good number of psychic type experiences. Whenever talking about these experiences her right hand often develops a visible tremor, as it did as we talked, and a large reddish splotch appeared on the right backside of her neck, which faded away moments later after she seemed more relaxed. She said this reddish skin condition had been occurring in conjunction with her psychic experiences and her thinking about them.

Naturally, brain scanning is an extremely expensive undertaking, and as Dr. Little explained to me and our AP panel members during a recent audio interview [available in the January issue] most such testing and research is justified medically in areas that are considered far more relevant to mainstream medical-related concerns, like schizophrenia, dementia, cancer, brain tumors, physical injury, etc.
Though preliminary, details are emerging on a study of “Anomalous Mental Phenomena” being undertaken by Garry P. Nolan, Ph.D., the Rachford and Carlotta A. Harris Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Stanford School of Medicine, and Christopher Green, M.D., Ph.D., a trained forensic neurologist, who on November 30th at the 2018 Space Genetics Symposium at the Harvard Medical School, reported that they were studying a unique cohort of individuals with unique experiences—some of whom claimed unusual encounters.  After presenting the relevant science, images, and analysis, Dr. Nolan and Green revealed at the end of their presentation that although classified officially as “hallucinations”, a significant portion of their medical cohort recounted interactions with “beings and orbs” and of “hearing messages.” What was important was not the encounters themselves per se, but the fact that brain scans of the individuals showed an unusual neurological feature—apparent increased density of neuronal connections in their caudate-putamen interface region.  Green and Nolan openly state that they weren't trying to prove that the experiences were real in the objective sense, but were trying to see if there were any “medical or familial relationships” to the encounters and the observed brain scan results.

They reported they had, at that time, a group of 105 patients, a significant fraction of which were in the field of paranormality termed “experiencers” [approximately 60% male and 40% female] and a control group of about 100 randomly selected individuals. “We had groups of patients who objectively had a higher density of neuronal connection between the head of the caudate and the putamen,” Dr. Nolan was quoted by author-researcher James Iandoli.

“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,” Iandoli wrote. “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 in the cohort of high connectivity in the caudate-putamen correlated with 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.”

I reached out to Dr. Nolan in an email and he informed me that a detailed report would eventually be written up for publication, but in the meantime he felt that it was worth discussing it now because, in his own words: "I think that the science we concluded matches up so well with current medical and scientific understanding on the role of the caudate putamen in intuitive processes. I think it's an interesting enough tidbit that the pure neuroscience community should be made aware, as well as the 'anomalous cognition' community. I'm an open science kind of guy and what's in the open can no longer be hidden or repressed." 

I asked Dr. Nolan how he had become involved in this study. He replied: “Dr. Green and another individual approached me several years ago to help them understand the medical aspects of some of their cohort, which they had begun to assemble before I got involved.”

Twitter user Jay (jay@09784691) also delved into this matter. He wrote (in regard to the Harvard presentation): “A question asked in the talk is whether there are forms of inherited intuition that are handed down across families that allows for distinct forms of intelligence and which are correlated, roughly by contributing to higher IQ (later referred to those with >140). It would appear these indicators are present in the patients included in the trial...”

Jay also pointed out how a reference was made to “hallucinations...NOT,” and that there was an indication that suggested that these so-called “hallucinations” - “experiencers” who see “visual and auditory of orbs, voices, entities” - might be something that the term hallucinations may be a bit vague in its coverage on, and for which I suspect that the term “visionary” might have been more appropriate to some.  Dr. Nolan told me in an email that the patients were all rigorously tested for psychological pathologies and demonstrated to be, apart from their reported experiences, otherwise normal, high functioning, stable personality types.

These preliminary findings are very intriguing and I'm very much looking forward to hearing and reading more.

Remembering John Salter

“Hunter Gray (John R. Salter, Jr) was one of the finest men I've ever known,” stated Scott H. Colborn of Nebraska's KZUM 89.3 FM program Exploring Unexplained Phemomena. “Recognized by many for his labor and civil rights work and having taught at Colleges and Universities (Professor and Chair Emeritus, American Indian Studies, University of North Dakota), I came to know him through his candid conversations on ET's and his own personal encounters and experiences.”

I shared some fairly extensive correspondence with John Salter myself, and we talked on the phone a number of times. He consistently struck me as a genuinely warm, caring and compassionate person – highly intelligent and credible. Below is a link to the incredible UFO story that he shared with me:


“John was a fearless man who made a major contribution to humanity during his lifetime,” wrote noted UFO author, researcher, hypnotherapist Kathleen Marden, niece of world famous alien abductee Betty Hill. “He viewed the extraterrestrial entities, with whom he had contact, as benevolent. Given the turbulence of humanity, he could understand the caution demonstrated by our non-human visitors. He took a very strong stand for civil rights and human rights. He will go down in history as one of our better men. He and his shining example will be missed.”

“I met John Salter in Lincoln, Nebraska at a MUFON conference years ago and we corresponded off and on for quite a while,” UFOlogist Chip Eggerton told me. “A beautiful soul. Certainly ‘one of a kind.'”

Sunday, March 03, 2024