Do sceptics dream of projected sheep?

August 26, 2005

Something strange is going on in the early hours at University College Northampton.

Researchers in UCN's new Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes (CSAPP) sit watching video clips, apparently concentrating their thoughts.

Known as "senders", they are hoping to transmit the images they see into the dreams of sleeping volunteers, in an experiment to test the powers of extrasensory perception.

Forty people from around the country have agreed to keep a dream diary to see how closely their dreams match up with the video clips played from 2am until 6.30am behind closed doors at CSAPP.

Later they are shown four videotapes, including the "target" clip, and asked to rate them according to how closely they reflect their dreams.

Researcher Chris Roe said the experiment was trying to discover what kind of person is most likely to possess ESP.

"When you have 40 randomly selected people their personalities and experiences will vary significantly," he said.

"This study is attempting to find out what features of a person might make them better at receiving images in their dreams."

The experiment will not be complete until October, and Dr Roe was reluctant to say how successful it had been so far.

He said, however, that some volunteers had been shocked to find strong links between their dreams and the video clips they selected.

Claire Bicknell, a public relations officer, dreamt of masked men on the night a clip of masked men in a tunnel was "sent" to her, and of fish playing in the ocean another night when a video of fish was played.

She said: "I was taken aback. I went into it with a fair amount of scepticism, but it is quite eerie how closely my dreams matched the videos."

Sarwat Aslam, sociology and sport science student, also matched two out of two clips, but was less convinced this was down to ESP.

"To a certain extent I believe in this sort of thing. But I think it needs more tests to be conclusive," she said.

The CSAPP team are advertising to fill a PhD studentship for their next project - to study the personalities and beliefs of psychics and mediums.

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