We appreciate the effort by Schwarzkopf to examine alternative explanations for predictive anticipatory activity (PAA) or presentiment (for first response, see: Schwarzkopf 2014a; for additional response, see: Schwarzkopf 2014b, for original article, see: Mossbridge et al. 2014). These commentaries are a laudable effort to promote collegial discussion of the controversial claim of presentiment, whereby physiological measures preceding unpredictable emotional events differ from physiological measures preceding calm or neutral events (Mossbridge et al., 2012; Mossbridge et al., 2014).
This meta-analysis of 26 reports published between 1978 and 2010 tests an unusual hypothesis: for stimuli of two or more types that are presented in an order designed to be unpredictable and that produce different post-stimulus physiological activity, the direction of pre-stimulus physiological activity reflects the direction of post-stimulus physiological activity, resulting in an unexplained anticipatory effect.
Advanced meditators occasionally report experiences of timelessness, or states of awareness that seem to transcend the usual boundaries of the subjective present. This study investigates this awareness in eight experienced meditators and eight matched controls by measuring 32 channels of EEG before, during, and after exposure to unpredictable light and sound stimuli.
A recent meta-analysis of experiments from seven independent laboratories (n=26) published since 1978 indicates that the human body can apparently detect randomly delivered stimuli occurring 1-10 seconds in the future. The key observation in these studies is that human physiology appears to be able to distinguish between unpredictable dichotomous future stimuli, such as emotional vs. neutral images or sound vs. silence. This phenomenon has been called presentiment (as in "feeling the future"). In this paper we call it predictive anticipatory activity or PAA.