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    Neuropsychological and cognitive perceptual characteristics

    Drinkwater, Kenneth ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4015-0578, Dagnall, Neil ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0657-7604 and Denovan, Andrew ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9082-7225 (2022) Neuropsychological and cognitive perceptual characteristics. In: 13th Symposium of BIAL Foundation: Behind and beyond the brain: the mystery of time, 6 April 2022 - 9 April 2022, Oporto, Portugal. (Unpublished)

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    The present project examined individuals who claim to possess paranormal abilities. Historically, the study of this area (via consideration of mediums, psychics, spiritualists, etc) is important because it has influenced the development of parapsychological/psychological concepts. Although healthy/well-adjusted subjects often report supernatural experiences, previous research indicates that experiencers differ in subtle cognitive/perceptual ways. Accordingly, three-phases examined whether individuals with self-professed paranormal ability possess a unique psychological profile. PHASE 1 - Identified neuro/psychological differences as a function of self-ascribed paranormal ability. This method was innovative because it classified differences in anomalistic experience. Three groups emerged differing in personal ascription of paranormal powers: no ability, self professed ability, and paranormal practitioners (i.e., Mediums, Psychics, Spiritualists, and Fortune-Tellers). Latent profile analysis (LPA) identified discrete classes that categorised important variations in paranormal experience and ability. These represented common differentiations in the frequencies of Paranormal Experience, Paranormal Practitioner Visiting, and Paranormal Ability. An additional advantage of LPA was the ability to compare emergent classes on levels of paranormal belief and measures of thinking style. Each profile grouped individuals based on mutually exclusive relationships between experiential indices. For instance, not all experiencers visited paranormal practitioners, nor did they profess supernatural ability. In addition, individuals reported multiple experiences and visited paranormal practitioners, but claimed little or no paranormal ability. PHASE 2 - This study investigated relationships between inter-class variations in paranormal experience and executive functions of mediums/psychics, experiencers & normal population. Results revealed breadth of paranormal experience was associated with higher levels of Executive Functioning difficulties for General Executive Function, Working Memory, Decision Making, and Paranormal Belief. PHASE 3 - This study examined personal perceptions (involvements) and comprehensions (interpretations) of self-ascribed paranormal abilities across 12 semi-structured interviews. Analysis revealed that self-ascription is a complex process. Interviewees narrated rich and detailed accounts that made sense of declared capabilities. They contextualised, rationalised, and provided evidence to support claims ❑ PHASE 1 - Provided categorisation of sample subpopulations based on heterogeneous paranormal histories. These reflected the fact that people accrue experience in quantitatively and qualitatively different ways. Findings revealed subclinical delusion formation and thinking style varied as a function of self-professed paranormal ability. ❑ PHASE 2 - Revealed differences between self-professed ability groups on Belief in the Paranormal, Proneness to Reality Testing Deficits, and Emotion-Based Reasoning. Specifically, paranormal practitioners possessed higher scores on these variables compared with self-professed ability and no ability groups. Overall, inter-class comparisons identified subtle differences in executive functions related to experience. Further research is necessary to confirm these outcomes, since the present study was exploratory, sampled only a limited subset of executive functions, and used subjective, self-report measures. ❑ PHASE 3 - Narratives and interviewees accounts reflected individual attempts to rationalize and understand self-ascribed paranormal abilities.

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