2011. Vol.2, No.8, 853-858
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/psych.2011.28130
Mental Connection at Distance: Useful
for Solving Difficult Tasks?
Patrizio E. Tressoldi, Stefano Massaccesi, Massimiliano Martinelli, Sara Cappato
Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale, Università di Padova, Padova, Italy.
Received August 19th, 2011; revised September 23rd, 2011; accepted October 25th, 2011.
Aim of this study is to provide a demonstration of the non-local property of the human mind to connect at dis-
tance, that is, without the classical means of communication. In the first experiment, 40 participants were re-
quested to identify in two separate sessions, 10 real and 10 false Chinese ideograms presented randomly, trying
to connect mentally with the research assistant sending correct suggestions at distance that is without any possi-
bility to communicate with them by conventional means. As control condition, in one of these two sessions the
helper did not send any suggestion although the receiver believed the contrary. In the session without suggestion,
the hits’ mean score was 10.55; conversely, in the condition where a research assistant tried to suggest the cor-
rect identification at distance, the hits’ mean score was 11.33. Both a frequentist and a Bayesian statistical
analysis approach, allows to reject the Null Hypothesis supporting the alternative one, that is, the possibility of
mental connection at distance exploiting the non-local properties of the human mind. A second experiment
aimed at increasing the efficiency of this mental connection taking into account task complexity and the level of
Absorption of participants as a personality trait deemed favorable to non-local communication. However the re-
sults were similar to the first experiment. Although mental connection at distance seems feasible, variables
which positively moderate this kind of communication are still to be identified.
Keywords: Non-Local Mental Connection, Random, Bayes, Individual Differences
Is it possible to help people at distance to make the correct
choice in a situation where there is no information available to
make the correct choice and there are no means of receiving
suggestions from someone else using conventional communica-
tion channels (i.e. phone call, email, etc.)?
The answer is clearly in the negative if we are referring to a
local model of the human mind, stating that the human mind
can manifest its contents using only the means available to the
human body, i.e. voice and movement. But what we might ex-
pect if this model is not correct and the human mind possesses
both local and non-local properties, that is human mind may
operate without space and time boundaries? The first thing that
comes to mind is the possibility of sending information at dis-
tance without resorting to the classical means of communica-
tion, that is mentally.
Are there theoretical models of non-local mind already avail-
able to us and empirical evidence to support them?
The suggestion that the human mind may express non-local
properties has its roots in Indian philosophy. In the sacred texts
of the Advaita Vedānta philosophical tradition, the physical
universe is seen as an undivided whole in which everything is
interconnected and the plurality of empirical phenomena is the
expression of a unitive and underlying principle of existence
and consciousness (mind) called Brahman (Satprakashananda,
In terms of more recent models of human mind and con-
sciousness, Max Velmans (2009) in his book Understanding
Consciousness, developed Reflexive Monism, a philosophical
model accounting for the problems of consciousness. This phi-
losophical model is a modern version of an ancient view that
the basic stuff of which the universe is composed has the poten-
tial to manifest both physically and as conscious experience (a
dual-aspect theory in the tradition of Spinoza). Briefly, this
philosophical model, posits that in its evolution from some
primal undifferentiated state the universe differentiated into
distinguishable physical entities, at least some of which have
the potential for conscious experience, such as human beings.
While remaining embedded within and dependent on the sur-
rounding universe and composed of the same fundamental sub-
stance, each human, equipped with perceptual and cognitive
systems, has an individual perspective on, both the rest of the
universe and him or herself. In this sense, each human partici-
pates in a process whereby the universe differentiates into parts
and becomes conscious of itself in manifold ways, making the
entire process reflexive.
Another theoretical approach to non-local mind is that which
sees these properties as quantum-like, similar to the entangle-
ment or interaction at distance phenomena observed in physics
(Radin, 2006; Clarke, 1995).
Empirical Evidence
To summarize the empirical evidence supporting the hy-
pothesis that the human mind possesses non-local properties,
we will present data obtained from meta-analysis for a better
appreciation of the cumulative evidence available today.
This evidence will be categorized as that investigating psy-
chophysiological responses to non-local interaction between
two participants, a sender and a receiver and that investigating
the communication of information from a sender to be reported
consciously by the receiver.
The more recent meta-analysis of the effects of psychophysi-
ological distant mental interaction between humans is that of
Schmidt, Schneider, Utts and Walach (2004), related to two
phenomena, the modification of the psychophysiological activi-
ity and the trigger of the feeling of being stared at to a spatially
separated and sensory isolated receiver. The synthesis of re-
spectively 36 and 15 studies reveals a small significant effect
size d = .11 in the studies on ‘direct mental psychophysiologi-
cal interaction’, while a best-evidence-synthesis of 7 studies
yielded d = .05. In 15 remote staring studies related to the feel-
ing of being stared at, it was obtained a mean effect size of
d = .13.
What observed with psychophysiological variables has been
also observed with electrophysiological measures (Achterberg,
Cooke, Richards, Standish, Kozak, & Lake, 2005; Richards,
Kozak, Johnson, & Standish, 2005; Wackermann, Seiter,
Keibel, & Walach, 2003), but no formal meta-analysis are
available at the moment.
A synthesis of evidence related to overt communication at
distance is presented by Storm, Tressoldi and Di Risio (2010,
under revision). In the prototypical task, a sender tries to con-
nect mentally to a receiver located at distance without any pos-
sibility of receiving information by conventional means, in
order to send the content of an image or a short video clip. The
receiver may be in a Ganzfeld condition or in a normal sensory
one. The image or video clip is identified among four, the target
and three decoys, after a period of free mentation during which
the receiver orally describes all sensory and emotional informa-
tion or after other techniques she/he adopt to receive the sender
information. The summary results obtained with 108 studies
using the Ganzfeld technique are: Random Model, ES = .148; .95
CI = .098 - .198. The summary results obtained with 14 studies
in no altered state of consciousness are: Random Model, ES
= .13; .95 Confidence Interval (CI) = .07 - .19.
From the cumulative evidence available it seems that mental
communication at distance is possible. Theoretical aspects
a-part however, one may wonder if this ability is of any practi-
cal importance. Measures of effect size do not convey this in
formation. From the Ganzfeld database the difference with re-
spect to the Mean Chance Expected (usually .25%) is: Mean =
10% (SD = .09); from the no altered state of consciousness:
Mean = 6.5% (SD = 7.4%).
Is a difference of approximately 10% in a Ganzfeld condition
interesting from a practical point of view? The answer is clearly
subjective and depends on personal expectation.
Our study is a contribution to increase the difference with
respect to the Mean Chance Expected (MCE). To this end, in
the first experiment we devised a task that could be perceived
as practical by participants. We thought that if participants per-
ceived the task as potentially useful, they would engage more
deeply with it and enhance their capacity to send and receive
information at distance.
In the second experiment we aimed to explore the role of in-
dividual differences testing the role of and Absorption as per-
sonality traits and the role of task complexity, as positive mod-
erator variables affecting the efficiency of mental connection at
Experiment 1: Method
Experimental Design
Dependent variable: number of correct identification; inde-
pendent variable: condition of suggestion at distance.
A convenient sample of 40 participants was recruited from
the students and personnel of Padua University. They were
invited to participate in an experiment to study non-local prop-
erties of the human mind by a research assistant. The final
sample comprised 14 males and 26 females with a mean age of
26; SD = 4.3. For their participation which lasted an average of
30 minutes, they were reimbursed with €5.00.
Procedure and Material
The experiment took place in two of the department’s labs.
Each participant was seated in front of a PC monitor and was
informed that the experiment consisted of two sessions and that
she/he twice had to recognize 10 real Chinese ideograms and 10
false ideograms. Before starting the experiment, participants
were asked about their familiarity with Chinese ideograms.
They were enrolled only if they declared no or almost no
knowledge apart from the capacity to recognize them as proba-
bly Chinese or Japanese ideograms. The choice of this material
was dictated by the aim to devise both an attractive task for
participants and a task that could not be solved using previous
Furthermore, participants were informed that the novelty of
the experiment consisted in the possibility of being helped in
their decisions by a research assistant who could see the ideo-
grams on a PC located in a distant room by means of an intranet
connection. The research assistant could help the participants
by suggesting the correct answer at distance but only mentally
because no other means of classical communication was possi-
ble. To help the receiver, the research assistant used a memo
with all the real ideograms printed on it. Although the possibil-
ity of being helped at distance was deemed improbable, par-
ticipants were requested to adopt a positive approach towards
this possibility and to answer only after at least 15 seconds of
“mental connection” with the helper following their preferred
The material (see real and false ideograms in the Appendix)
was written by hand by a native Chinese scribe on white paper
to get the guarantee about the accuracy of real and false ideo-
grams, scanned and transformed into digital jpg images to be
used in the software for automatizing the random presentation
of ideograms and the storing of participant’ responses. After the
presentation of each ideogram in the middle of the PC screen,
the participant had to decide if it was real or false, pressing the
“z” or the “m” keys on the PC keyboard respectively.
The software was compiled in E-Prime® and the randomiza-
tion was obtained by using the dedicated subroutine.
In order to prevent learning, no feedback was given after
each response. At the end of each session only the number of
correct identifications was presented on the PC screen.
To control whether the suggestion at distance could produce
better results with respect to a classical situation where only
pure intuition could be used, in one of the two sessions the
helper was occupied with an irrelevant task and the monitor
connected with that of the receiver was turned off. The order of
the help sessions alternated among participants but they com-
pleted both sessions believing that they had always been helped
at distance.
Experiment 1: Results
In order to test the robustness of the statistical results, we
used both a frequentist approach following APA (2010) statis-
tical recommendations and a Bayesian one.
Order of Helping Sessions
The means of hits of the help sessions according to their or-
der (first or second) were almost identical. No suggestion: First
session: M = 10.4; SD = 1.9; Second: M = 10.5; SD = 1.8; Sug-
gestion at Distance: M = 11.4; SD = 1.7; Second: M = 11.2; SD
= 1.4. Consequently, they were analyzed together in the fol-
lowing statistical analysis.
Descriptive Statistics
Means, standard deviation and sum of correct identification
(Hits, Min = 0; Max = 20), are presented in Table 1.
Comparison with the Mean Chance Expected
The comparison with the MCE (see Table 2) was done using
both a one sample t-test and a binomial test to consider both a
continuous and a discrete distribution. For the frequentist ap-
proach, all statistics were one-tailed fixed at α = .05 and ana-
lyzed using a bootstrap procedure based on 1000 samples. For
the Bayesian approach, a Bayes Factor (BF10) comparing the
alternative ver- sus the null hypothesis ratio, was calculated
using the software available at (Rouder, 2011) for the bi-
nomial distribution and the software available at www. ruud- (Wetzels, Raaijmakers, Jakab, & Wagen
makers, 2009).
Comparison between the Two Conditions
The statistical comparison between the sessions with and
without suggestion at distance is presented in Table 3.
Experiment 1: Comment
Despite comparison with the MCE, showed that null hy-
pothesis could be rejected for both sessions, if we consider raw
scores, effect size and BF10, it is clear that with suggestion at
distance, participants obtained the best results. Direct compari-
son between the two sessions confirms the superiority of sug-
gestion at distance to session without suggestion.
The results seem to support the possibility of sending sug-
gestions at distance without the use of conventional communi-
cation means. The net result, however, of a mean increase of
10.3% with respect to the MCE may seem quite low to be of
any practical use.
To test if it were possible to increase the net result with re-
spect to MCE, we decided to carry out a second experiment
with more attention paid to individual differences and task
With respect to individual differences, we concentrated on
the degree of Absorption, a particular personality trait that was
found favorable to the expression of non-local properties of the
human mind (i.e. Terhune and Smith, 2006)
With respect to the task complexity, we realized that the task
of suggesting if an ideogram was correct or false is particularly
demanding for the helper if she/he is not familiar with the
characters. Although we could expect some learning in the
course of the experiment, the lack of familiarity meant a con-
tinual check of ideograms in the memo, disturbing mental con-
nection with the receiver. To test this hypothesis we devised a
simpler task, namely a choice between two pictures represent-
ing the sun and the moon respectively (see Appendix).
Experiment 2: Method
As anticipated, with this experiment we aimed to increase the
net result with respect to the MCE taking into account the de-
gree of Absorption as individual difference in personality and
the reduction of the complexity of the task as moderating vari-
Experimental Design
Dependent variable: number of correct identification; inde-
pendent variable: condition of suggestion at distance.
A convenient sample of 70 participants was recruited as in
experiment 1 from the students and personnel of Padua Univer-
sity. They were invited to participate in an experiment to study
non-local properties of the human mind by a research assistant.
Table 1.
Means, standard deviation (SD) and sum of correct identification (hits)
observed in the sessions with and without suggestion at distance.
No suggestion at distance Suggestion at distance
Mean 10.55 11.33
SD 1.84 1.62
Hits Sum 422 453
Table 2.
Results of frequentist and Bayesian statistics for the sessions without and with suggestion at distance.
no suggestion One – Sample t test (.95 CI of difference) ES (.95 CI) BF10 Binomial z test BF10
Hits Mean 10.551.9
(.5 to 1.12)
(–.2 to .66) 1.31 1.52 1.3
SD 1.84
suggestion at distance
Hits Mean 11.335.16
(.82 to 1.85)
(.45 to 1.16) 4166 3.7 23.8
SD 1.62
Table 3.
Frequentist and Bayesian statistics of the comparison between the sessions with and without suggestion at distance.
Paired T test (.95 CI of difference) ES (.95 CI) BF10
Hits Mean Difference 0.775 2.25
(.15 to 1.4)
(.11 to .76) 2.6
SD 2.17
The level of Absorption was predefined as low if the total score
on the Tellegen Absorption Questionnaire (Tellegen, & At-
kinson, 1974) was at or below 20 and high if it was above 20.
An equal number of participants with low and high degree of
Absorption was predefined. When the total of 35 was obtained
in a group, participants were recruited only if their Absorption
level met the inclusion criteria of the remaining group. The
final sample comprised 61 males and nine females with a mean
age of 27 (SD = 3.5). For participation lasting an average of 30
minutes, they were reimbursed with €5.00.
Procedure and Materials
The procedure was identical to that in first experiment. The
only difference was the material. Instead of ideograms, two
images were used, a sun and a moon. In this case the task of the
receiver was to guess which image the helper was suggesting to
him/her. The order of images to be suggested, was randomized
creating a list of 0 (sun) and 1 (moon) from the site www.ran- for each participant.
Experiment 2: Results
Descriptive Statistics
Means, standard deviation and sum of correct identification
(hits, Min = 0, Max = 10) obtained by the Low and High level
of Absorption groups, are presented in Table 4.
Direct Comparison between the Two Groups
The statistics related to the comparison between the two
groups of participants are presented in Table 5.
From this comparison it is evident that the two groups per-
formed at similar level and there was no support for a differen-
tial ability of one group over the other. Consequently all further
analysis were performed only on the whole group.
Comparison with the Mean Chance Expected
The same frequentist and Bayesian statistics were used as in
experiment 1 and are presented in Table 6.
Experiment 2: Discussion
The results of experiment 2 converge to support the hypothe-
sis that suggestion at distance was effective with respect to the
MCE representing the null hypothesis, with a net increment
of 8.8%. The results are no better than those obtained in ex-
periment 1, however, where the net increase with respect to tion
MCE was 10.3%. Consequently, our hypothesis that Absorp-
level and task simplification could increase performance with
respect to the MCE, is not supported.
General Discussion
Even if they are not extraordinary, our results are close to or
better than those obtained with a Ganzfeld procedure suggest-
ing that non-local communication may be observed even with-
out an altered state of sensory perception, clearly not a very
practical solution.
The findings of the present study give more support to the
hypothesis that the human mind may express non-local proper-
ties, both to receive and to transmit information as documented
by the meta-analysis of Storm, Tressoldi and Di Risio (2010)
and Tressoldi (2011) examining the cumulative evidence ob-
tained up to today.
Although we sometimes described our task from the partici-
pants’ point of view, what we observe may be not a transmis-
sion of information but rather only correlations between two
entangled minds. What some philosophical models and Quan-
tum Mechanics interpretations tell us, is that deep physical
reality is interconnected beyond the ordinary boundaries of
space and time that in turn tells us that our minds/consciousness
must also be interconnected. Not occasionally, but always.
If this is true, then what we observe is our experiential, sub-
jective sense of this underlying connectedness. Therefore sug-
gestion at distance is not transmission of anything. It may be,
rather, a result of focusing one’s attention on another person,
because we are already and continuously connected to that
person all the time (and to everything else). By analogy, if we
had a radio that transmitted everyone’s speech in the universe
to us simultaneously, all we would hear would be noise. But if
we tuned the radio to one specific frequency, we would hear
one specific person. We think that mental connection at dis-
tance is the act of attention tuning the radio.
Table 4.
Means, standard deviation (SD) and sum of correct identification (hits)
of participant with low and high level of absorption.
Groups Mean SD Hits Sum
Low 5.37 1.78 188
High 5.51 1.48 193
All 5.44 1.63 381
Table 5.
Frequentist and Bayesian statistics related to the comparison between the low and high absorption groups.
One sample t-test (.95 CI of the difference) ES (.95 CI) BF10
Hits Mean Difference .14 –.36
(–.88 to .60)
(–.15 to .31) .79
Tabel 6.
Frequentist and Bayesian statistics related to the comparison with the MCE.
Mean One-Sample T test (.95 CI of the difference) ES (.95 CI) Binomial z test BF10
All participants 5.44 2.27
(.05 to .81)
(.3 to .51) 2.31 2.8
Even if there is some hypothesis, there is a lack of knowl
edge about the moderating factors influencing the performance
of non-local mental connection. As far as individual differences
are concerned, there is insufficient information about the role of
some personality traits. In experiment 2, we failed to identify
the role of Absorption level. Among other personality traits,
there is the Sensation-Seeking one. Recently, this trait has been
observed as a positive mediator in tasks requiring participants
to anticipate future information (Bem, 2011). In general, the
search for a good personality trait should consider those which
favour mental and emotional bonding (Miller and Rodgers,
2001), but little is known about these at the moment.
A third variable that could positively moderate non-local
mental connection, may be the degree of emotional bonding
between the sender and the receiver. Sheldrake and colleagues
for example, observed an increase of correct hits when the
sender was a parent or a close friend in task where the receiver
had to guess who had rung or emailed them (Sheldrake and
Smart, 2005; Sheldrake and Beharee, 2009). A plausible expla-
nation is that people who shared emotional and communication
bonds for long time, find communication easier whether using
classical or non-local means.
Although the evidence supporting the reality of non-local
perception and communication abilities of the human mind is
quite robust, these abilities are only likely to be appreciated by
lay persons and scientists alike, if demonstrations of their prac-
tical use are provided. Our study is a contribution towards this
goal and although our findings are not particularly exceptional,
we hope more people will become interested in this research
field to contribute to enlarging our knowledge of the human
We acknowledge the Proof Reading Service for English re-
vision and the suggestions of the referee which helped us to
improve the clarity of the paper.
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Ideograms used in experiment 1
Images used in experiment 2