Thursday, 29 September 2016

Amplified hearing - yes it could be real!

Crows in a treeRegular readers will be aware of the strange 'amplified noise' phenomenon reported by MA (my acquaintance who experiences microsleep with REM - MWR). Briefly, MWRs produce experiences which could easily be reported as paranormal but are natural in origin. They affect a small percentage of the population, usually those with certain sleep disorders.

The 'amplified noise' phenomenon consists of sound apparently being heard more loudly than when fully awake during some MWR episodes. I have not, so far, been able to decide if the phenomenon actually amplifies real sounds heard at the time or is purely dream content produced by MA's brain. The latest evidence (see here) suggests that it might indeed by amplifying real sounds. But I've had trouble finding any other similar phenomena. Until now.

I recently recalled an incident I had once when I had my ears syringed to remove wax. After the procedure everything was very loud, painfully so. This extremely loud effect continued for a few hours but gradually my hearing returned to normal. This is clear evidence that the brain and/or ear are indeed able modify the sensitivity of our hearing. So it is entirely plausible that MA really is hearing real external sounds with the 'volume turned up' (by the brain/ear) during certain MWR episodes.

I was prompted to think about this by an article in this week's New Scientist. It described research which showed that people can process language when in REM sleep. Whether speech heard in REM sleep is amplified I've no idea. Nevertheless it raises the possibility of people gaining sound information from their environment when asleep.

Consider the following scenario. Someone (lets's call him X) falls asleep in front of the TV and eventually enters REM sleep. Suppose that, during this time, a documentary comes on about some obscure episode from history. When X wakes he remembers none of this. Then, weeks later X is watching a TV quiz when a question comes up about the very same obscure historical episode described in the documentary he slept through. X finds himself able to answer the question correctly, even though the panelists on TV cannot. X is utterly baffled because he cannot recall ever hearing about the historical episode before. X wonders if he might be psychic receiving a message from beyond!

I've often found myself answering obscure questions on TV quizzes despite having no idea how I knew the information. I've always assumed it was something I'd picked up somewhere in my life and I've simply forgotten when and where. That is most likely to be the answer, particularly with my terrible memory. But I now also have to consider the possibility that I don't remember how I know something because I only ever heard it when I was asleep!

One could describe a psychic as "someone who supplies information, on a particular subject, that they were not previously consciously aware they had" (see here). Some people may think they are psychic when actually they have a terrible memory for context or have heard stuff in their sleep!.

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