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It Takes a Special Brain to Believe

Whether or not you believe in the paranormal may depend onyour brain chemistry. Peter Brugger, of the UniversityHospital in Zurich, Switzerland, thinks people with highlevels of dopamine are more likely to find significance incoincidences, and pick out meanings and patterns where nonereally exist.

Dopamine is part of the brain's reward and motivationsystem. It?s thought that addicts may have naturally lowlevels of dopamine.

Brugger experimented on 20 ?believers? and 20 skeptics. Histeam asked the two groups to distinguish real faces fromscrambled ones as the images flashed by briefly on a screen.Next they were asked to identify real words from fake ones,as scrambled letters flashed past them.

Believers were much more likely than skeptics to see a wordor face when there wasn?t one. However, skeptics were morelikely to miss the real faces and words when they appearedon the screen. The researchers also gave the volunteersL-dopa, a drug that increases the levels of dopamine in thebrain. Both groups made more mistakes under the influence ofthe drug, but the skeptics became even more likely tointerpret scrambled words or faces as the real thing.

Because the L-dopa didn?t cause believers to see morecoincidences and relationships, it may mean that there?s aplateau effect and increased dopamine doesn?t have a greatereffect, after a certain threshold.

This sounds exactly like what happens in the real world,when it comes to the paranormal. UFO believers, forinstance, tend to search the skies and identify stars andsatellites as UFOs. This doesn?t mean they don?t spot ?real?UFOs as well. Skeptics tend to brush off any possibilitythat UFOs exist, no matter how much proof they?re shown.

If you?re a skeptic, the UFO book for you is ?UFOs and theNational Security State? by Richard Dolan, who gives thefacts about what the government knows about UFOs,click here.

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