Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Wide screen or peripheral vision weird experience?

 Crows in a treeMy acquaintance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM (MWR) experiences may have discovered a way to tell the difference between two types of weird experience. MWRs are short dream or mixed dream and reality experiences that occur primarily to some people with certain sleep disorders. MWRs are effectively hypnagogic experiences but, because they are short and the witness is fully awake before and after, can feel very much like real experiences.

MA's visual MWRs typically are of two types. There are those based firmly on the real life scene just before the MWR started. Let's call them RB (reality-based) experiences. And there are also those where MA is apparently momentarily 'transported' to somewhere completely different. Let's call them SE (somewhere else) experiences.

MA has noticed that SEs don't feel quite as real as RBs. The reason is that they are more like watching a wide screen TV or a movie in a cinema. Peripheral vision appears to be missing removing the immersive 3D feel. In contrast, RBs DO seem to have full peripheral vision giving a much more realistic feel. This difference may be because there is lots of current sensory information available to the brain for the RB experience. In contrast,the SB experience is presumably based entirely on memory and so is much less detailed.

MA recently had an experience that illustrated this while sitting and reading a magazine article. After a while MA reached a paragraph that seemed to make no sense despite reading it several times. It was at this point that MA emerged from a MWR. It was a perfect example of a RB type MWR. MA was not aware of anything odd going on. Everything felt and looked completely normal and real. The only clue was the unreadable paragraph. MA's eyes were actually closed during the MWR which is why the text made no sense. The 'text' MA was seeing was not the text from the actual magazine.

This experience illustrates how it is possible to go from a completely real scene being observed by a fully conscious witness into one partly, or entirely, produced from within the brain. And the whole process is so seamless that the transition is undetectable. It is usually only the end of the experience that is noticeable, at least to MA. It is possible that others who experience MWRs may not notice the exit transition either. They may well not be aware of the true nature of MWRs and regard them as paranormal experiences. Indeed, MA has seen highly realistic ghosts in such circumstances (see here for instance).

It would be interesting to see if other witnesses who have experiences similar to SEs, such as out of the body experiences, see things like a wide screen TV or report fully immersive peripheral vision. Unfortunately, they may not actually remember. One of things about MWRs is that they end in a fully consciousness state and so can be recalled in great detail unlike some other near sleep experiences. It is what makes MWRs such a useful tool to probe bear sleep experiences.

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