What is Extended Consciousness

Neuron Concept

Extended consciousness is about connecting. Both science and mysticism describe a world that gives us the power to influence how matter behaves—and perhaps even reality itself—simply through the way we perceive the world around us. Can our intentions of an event change reality?

Extended consciousness reaches beyond the 5 senses. Extended consciousness (EC) experiences are reported across all cultures and all educational levels, stimulating the imagination and tapping into the magic and mystery of the universe. Reports of experiences suggest that the mind reaches beyond the ordinary senses, extending through both space and time. This presents significant challenges to scientific assumptions and to experimental methods. This makes us ask: Who are we? What does it mean to be human? Does the universe have hidden, non-material processes that are part of us?

“A few moments of advance notice could help soldiers take cover before an explosion, help first responders make course corrections for vehicles, and benefit any life-or-death task where seconds count,” said Julia Mossbridge, PhD, Department of Psychology at Northwestern University.

Mossbridge is the lead author of a groundbreaking study published in 2012 that showed that the human body can anticipate emotional future events as much as 10 seconds before they occur. Then in 2014 scientists released an analysis that explores how this unconscious early alert system could be used to save lives in military and civilian settings.i This idea was first funded by Samueli Institute in experiments done by Dr. Ed May, former director of the CIA’s “Star Gate” program.

What Does The Science Say?


Our current understanding of extended consciousness violates existing assumptions in neurosciences as well as those of space and time. Foundational work has opened investigation in new areas.

  • Critical evaluation of the research. In 2003, with funding from the Laurance Rockefeller Fund, Samueli Institute undertook a massive review of the literature on extended consciousness and related research. A rigorous, systematic set of criteria were applied by independent evaluators to determine the quantity, quality and validity of the research. This established that there was significant research demonstrating that the phenomenon of extended consciousness exists.
  • Evidence of “gifted individuals.” Samueli Institute fellows Harald Walach, PhD, and Stefan Schmidt, PhD, explored extended consciousness by showing hundreds of images to a subject in the UK while measuring EEG readings on another in Germany. After running the test with numerous subjects a small number showed extraordinarily high connection with emotional, affective or co-participants images. These extraordinary results in a small number of participants suggest the existence of “gifted participants” in extended consciousness.
    “We are facing a phenomenon that is neither easy to dismiss as a methodological failure or a technical artifact, nor understood as to its nature,” remarked Walach.
  • Anomalous cognition: Edwin C. May, PhD published Samueli Institute-funded studies on the concept of “presentiment” which is an unconscious, physiological reaction to events that are about to occur. This launched an entire field of study and provided the basis for Dr. Julia Mossbridge’s work at Northwestern University.
  • The arrow of time. Dean Radin, PhD, Institute of Noetic Sciences, examines the direction of time and explores how intentionality and consciousness impact time.
  • Brain activity decreases in meditation. “This suggests that such a state of meditative conscious awareness might be different from higher cognitive and mentally focused states but also from states of sleep and drowsiness.”ii

Despite groundbreaking scientific evidence to the contrary, many write it off as coincidence, illusion or delusion. Is this ignorance and bias or the voice of reason?

Researchers note that ignoring the evidence has consequences for the field:

“Consciousness deniers are materialists who conceive of all aspects of consciousness as entirely a result of physiological processes, in spite of hundreds of studies demonstrating this conclusion is not justified. This, just as Creationists in the face of hundreds of studies, demand that evolution be considered no more than an unproven theory, or that climate deniers see extreme snow storms as proof that climate change is a fallacy. As a result of these denier efforts, research in all three areas has been made more difficult, and this has had both unfortunate scientific and social implications.”iii S Schwartz


5,000-3,000 B.C.E.

Ayurveda develops the concepts of “universal consciousness”; Chinese science the concept of “Qi” or life energy; Egyptian concepts of spiritual forces; indigenous concepts of “soul” travel and hidden nature forces, etc.

427-347 B.C.E.

Plato describes the soul as “imprisoned” in the body.

17th century-Mind vs. Matter

Descartes explores the connection between the mind (an immaterial mental realm) and body (the physical realm). The concept of “vitalism” emerges in the West.

19th Century

Psychology emerges as the branch of philosophy that studies the mind. Psychology and consciousness are connected.


Behaviorism takes hold. The study of the mind is ignored in favor of observable behavior.


A shift away from behaviorism is solidified. Studies on higher mental processes such as thinking, problem-solving, creativity, memory and perception regain popularity.


U.S. military conducts the controversial STAR GATE project, which explores using remote viewing, a form of extended consciousness, in battle and security.

21st century

Accumulating studies report the existence of information outside the five basic senses but no agreed upon mechanism emerges to explain these observations. Technology develops that can detect how belief or intention interacts with reality.

How Does
it Work


Similar to other areas of frontier science, although studies continue to show that the phenomena of extended consciousness exists, until scientists can agree on HOW it works or WHY these observations continue to emerge, the field struggles to progress. Multiple hypotheses are put forward, some testable some not.

Currently, studies are amassing data of results that can’t be explained by the current understanding of local (brain generated) consciousness alone. Advocates of extended consciousness believe that in time this critical mass of data plus additional perspectives will lead to an explanation that may be related to the following theories:

  • Quantum mechanics
  • Ultraweak light emissions
  • Standard physics or cognitive neuroscience
  • New understandings about time
  • Artifact, error or bias

In The
Real World


Knowledge beyond the five basic senses is expressed in the following areas:

  • Consciousness and healing: Can clinical hypnosis, meditative stages and mantras relieve pain and suffering for chronic illness?
  • Hypnosis / dreaming/ nightmares/ imagination: Does the power of suggestion affect our subconscious mind?
  • Remote viewing/ remote staring: Can we bypass space and time to mentally “teleport” to learn about or affect another place or time?
  • Presentiment/ Intuition: Can we predict future events and avoid calamity?
  • Telepathy: Is it possible to communicate using the mind?

Dig Deeper


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Future Potential
for the Field


According to scientists in the field, harnessing the power of extended consciousness could help on the road or on the battlefield.

Soldiers follow certain others because they seem to “know”; what if we could transform hunches into data and use it to determine thresholds; amplify it for accuracy; and establish the appropriate duck and cover reactions. In combat situations where an improvised explosive device (IED) may be present or in the civilian world in advance of a car collision, the goal would be to harness the data in a body suit that tracks, amplifies and decodes electrical stress response of body.

Some believe a form of space “travel”could be possible. Although you can’t physically travel light years away, if you can tap into a non-local information pathways, which quantum mechanics says exists, you can travel from an informational point of view and “see” anywhere in the universe.

Team work

Moving forward requires the involvement of multiple scientists and new tools for a breakthrough. Bringing together scientists (not just advocates) from other disciplines allows the field to approach it from a multi-disciplinary way (mathematics, informatics, psychology, etc.). neuroscienceengineering, research methodology/tool development)

Eliminate bias

“Harden the science and soften the scientists” (focus on rigorous scientific thinking but eliminate the dogmatic discussions based on prior assumptions and bias). This is a common issue in the field of studying many frontier topics. Learn more about the challenges.

i “Predicting the Unpredictable: Critical Analysis and Practical Implications of Predictive Anticipatory Activity” was published on March 25, 2014 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.


iii NeuroQuantology | March 2011 | Vol 9 | Issue 1 | Page 118‐128 Schwartz SA., How denier movements debunk evolution, climate change, and nonlocal consciousness Library/Knowledge Center/Publications/The Antique Roadshow.pdf icon-pdf-small

iv Frontiers of Consciousness Workshop summary – 2014 icon-pdf-small

v Proceedings: Generalized Entanglement from a Multidisciplinary Perspective, Freiburg, Germany, October 2003 icon-pdf-small

vi Healing, Intention and Energy Medicine Wayne Jonas, Cindy Crawford

vii Explore Special Issue May/June 2007 Vol 3 No 3 ED Dossey L icon-pdf-small