por Nubor Orlando Facure

What does the brain have to teach the mediums?


Our sight is one of the most active features of the brain. We stimulate two thirds (70%) of the cerebral cortex when we are looking at a child running. There are 30 brain areas that will be working on the details of that vision. We need to know who is the child, where it is, how fast it moves, where it is going, what clothes it wears, its colors, the risk it runs, the kinship it has with us, if it comes to us to say something and if we need to open our arms to embrace it or help if there is a danger of falling.

Our sight record is not the photographic type, it is interpretive, and it constructs a landscape with what it sees. What we see creates a "representation" of what we "think" we are seeing. From this it follows that more than ninety percent of this activity takes place in the mind; and this is what allows each one of us to see as it seems to us and not as the thing really is.

Why do we see?

Human sight only exists with light. It all starts with a wave of vibratory energy that strikes our retina reflecting in it the image of objects. Here the light acts on cones and rods producing thousands of combinations in black and white or in colors, in a mixture of three fundamental colors: red, green and blue - color is almost a miracle, and it is good to know that it exists in us and not in objects. When the light energy is converted into a nerve impulse, it travels through the brain producing a series of other phenomena that will enable us to "qualify" what we see, giving them properties:

The moonlight meekness

The stillness of the valleys

The birds chirping

The rushing of water

The brightness of the stars

The children's generous smile

The strong red of the strawberries

The bright red of Sunset

The soft red of the roses.

Sight and language

Our mind creates symbolic representations for what we are seeing. We give them qualities to understand their existence.

The properties of the objects and scenarios described above are not primary qualities, they are "imaginations" that we create to relate, interpret and explain how these things are for us. We learn to use our representations with their meanings so that they can be part of our everyday language, dispensing the presence of the visualized object.

Our childhood is full of imagination that we learnt to listen to and create to represent the world and lessen our anguish and fears. We created the little angels with wings, the man who is half man and half horse, the little fairy who produces stars, the monsters, the giants and the dwarfs, the witches and the heroes. However, the greatest invention we created to represent our images was writing. Only the human being is able to represent an object by a set of letters, a word a phrase or a poem.

It is said that an eagle is able to see a letter from a distance of 15 meters, but surely it cannot read it, or give meaning to this letter and understand what it says.

Anatomy’s impulse - sharing the image

When the image reaches the back of the brain in the occipital region, important and curious anatomical phenomena occur. The information is distributed in layers from a central point, in the last turn of the occipital lobe. There we build the focus of our gaze, from which some detail of the image spreads like the peel of an onion. One part will be sent to the parietal lobe in the Angular Groove, another to the temporal region in the Medial Groove, and a third path will also reach the Fusiform Groove, also in the temporal lobe.

Let's see what the purpose of this threefold division is:

The Angular Turn and its neighborhoods

Located in the parietal lobe, this rotation plays very interesting functions - it allows us to have a GPS in the brain - it locates us in space and allows us to be informed "where" – precisely this: where a certain object is. Let us imagine we pick up a cup among several crockery and glasses, the clumsy ones always cause small accidents at home.

In the right parietal lobe some surgical experiments were able to stimulate the vicinity of this area and the patient reported feeling outside the body - a projection of the body image occurs outside the body - similar to the known metaphysical reports of "out of body experiences" that count today with vast evidence in the medical literature.

The temporal lobe

Here there are regions that allow us to have a sense of "what is" and of the movements of people and objects identified - to understand the importance of this function would be like walking in the corridor of a mall where several people are hurrying in our direction, forcing us to get away from each of them. And here also the clumsy ones have no success and often bump into each other.

The Fusiform Spin

It is a phenomenon of extreme importance - it is an area where the faces of people are projected, thus the identification of friends and strangers is processed, a fundamental distinction for sociability and survival. And in this particular, we all stumble when we remember that face, but we often forget the person’s name.

A brief summary

We conclude then that soon after we have the images recorded in the occipital lobe they spread their connections to neighboring areas so that we can become aware of the color, shape, movement and precise location of the visualized object - for each of these functions there is a group of neurons performing this task. Neurology tells us that we have, yes, a neuron for our Grandmother and another for Angelina Jolie.

Between the brain and the mind

Neurology teaches that the image that comes to our eyes is not interpreted as a reflection projecting into a mirror. Brain and mind will build what they "think" to be seeing. Therefore, for all we see the brain and mind assemble a representation of what they imagine to be what is being seen.

It is worth repeating with the scientists that our reality is pure imagination. More important, yet, is to know that each of us imagines the world in its own way.

Neurology teaches that as we build our mental images, we assemble some pieces that combine in this imagination. First, the expectation - if I expect to see an angel I must give it wings as one of its properties. By repeating what we have already learned, sight is an active process; it is our mind that puts in objects or people the characteristics it expects to see in them.

Then, our memories - if I already know the “pequi do cerrado” (1), it is easy for me to identify this fruit when I find it in the middle of the rice coloring it with its yellowish color. When I see a face in the crowd I will know who it is if my memories detect our kinship or friendship.

Finally, it interferes with our personal and collective culture - the land worker who recognizes the animals in the field; the mechanic who works with the engine parts; the doctor who handles the surgery instruments; the cook who chooses the ingredients for the food; the bushman who walks easily through the forest; the pilot who lands the plane even in the fog of the storm - they all see details that their knowledge makes possible to compose.

The extravagances of pathology

Injuries, inflammations, tumors and various syndromes are able to trigger manifestations that distort our vision. Out of the classic neurological frameworks of blindness and hemianopia, it is worth pointing out curiosities that occur with some people.

If the area that identifies the movement of objects or people is affected, then the individual reports unbelievable curiosities - one of them says he cannot pour milk in the glass. When he turns the bottle he does not notice the liquid falling into the glass and he spills the milk. Another one says there is no way to walk in the mall, because he never knows if people are coming toward him; and it is terrible trying to cross the street when the cars are passing. A third one will note that those birds that are flying around actually seem to be standing still, but he can see them in one place or another, leaving him confused.

Colors have several tones or disappear in patients with epilepsy - they can report visual “crises" during which they perceive in their field of vision the unfolding of a scene as if it were a movie. It may initially be your black and white images, followed by the appropriate coloring filling the scenery.

The mediumship - seeing Spirits

Clairvoyance is a rare type of mediumship. Children usually see a lot, just like the elderly in the later stages of life.

Good clairvoyants make very interesting reports that we can better understand by knowing what the brain tells us as we are studying.

It must be said that the medium does not see the Spirit; it is the Spirit that is made visible - using the sharing of a special physiology available to the clairvoyant. The perception of a spiritual entity happens through a combination of phenomena - it takes a combination of the fluids of the incarnate with the disincarnate; there is a fluidic attunement with assimilation by the medium's perispirit of what is projected by the disincarnated Spirit.

And finally, the image that the Spirit wants to show has its expression in the physical brain of the medium to which he must submit to what we study about it.

We can summarize some of our statements registered above:

The visible world is an imagination of the mind - this is called visual perception.

Visual stimulus reaches the "brain," but it is the mind that builds the representation of what it sees - we create a mental picture of what we think we are seeing.

Each of us builds his visual images according to his expectations, his memories and his culture.

There are differentiated regions in the brain located around the occipital region, for the perception of space and what it contains, the location of objects or people, their movement, shape, color and facial identity.

Let's take the examples in the mediums' reports:

What we can learn

1 - In The Book of Mediums, Allan Kardec teaches that clairvoyance is a kind of a rare mediumship and that its development should not be caused, letting it take its natural course, avoiding the risk of being deluded by the imagination. The brain has plenty information and the mind is very creative and can make us see what does not exist.

2 - In the fantasy world of the child it is common for the child to talk with characters built by its imagination, but not everything is fictitious in the world of the child. In the history of many mediums they report their clairvoyance from childhood, and at that time they did not have enough knowledge to identify what part of the conversation with spiritual entities was really taking part.

3 - In the elderly and in terminal patients, there are reports of visits by Spirits, who were relatives, and which are seen by the patient - the veracity of these reports deserves unquestionable credit - in this respect, the Spiritist Doctrine is rich in proofs.

4 - In epilepsy, although academic neurology still does not admit it, it is possible that certain crises are precipitated by disturbing entities, and we can imagine that the images visualized in the crises have to do with the spiritual dimension. In the words of Kardec, clairvoyance is often a fleeting episode, much resembling a cortical "crisis" - we believe it occurs through excitation of neurons in the occipital region.

5 – Clairvoyance is not a continuous phenomenon, it usually occurs in flashes, often restricted to a focus, at a certain point in the environment - sometimes the Spirit appears systematically in the same place, or here and there. From what we have studied, the fixation of the Spirit at a particular location occurs by stimulating localized neurons in the medium's brain rather than as a real fact. It is not, for example, the fault of the Spirit to always appear next to the piano, it is the medium's brain that can only see it there.

6 - The appearance of the Spirit has to do with the stimulation of neurons of the occipito-temporal area that allows us to identify the forms of objects. The popular concept teaches that the description of the forms depends on the eyes of the beholder - watch out for the bride's wedding dress, each guest will make the description that most affects him. That is why in the visions both saints and demons can be described - wings, haloes, tridents or mantles of light.

7 - When Wilder Penfield began the first neurosurgeons to cure epilepsy, the patient was operated on awake, with the brain exposed. This allowed certain areas of the brain to be stimulated electrically by the neurosurgeon. Dr. Penfield was able to obtain, with this technique, that the patient reported what he was seeing or feeling or moving his fingers. He could also utter a few words, cries, see scenes from his past, describe places where he had lived or where he felt projected.

Allan Kardec teaches that our soul, when emancipated partially from the body, can "see" pictures or scenarios stored in its own physical brain. This means that our neurons store signals that allow us to recompose memories of things seen or experienced - we think that this is a very appropriate vulnerability for the obsessors to act.

(1) Translator’s Note: Pequi is the name of a tree and its yellow fruit. You can find it in the Brazilian savannah.


Eleni Frangatos



O Consolador
 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita