UK scientists have built a virtual computer world designed to test telepathic ability.
The University of Manchester team has created a system which immerses individuals in what looks like a life-size computer game.
Approximately 100 participants will take part in the experiment which aims to test whether telepathy exists between individuals.
The project will also look at whether telepathic abilities may vary depending on the relationships which exist between participants.
The test is carried out using two volunteers who could be friends, work colleagues or members of the same family. They are placed in separate rooms on different floors of the same building to eliminate any possibility of communication.
Participants enter the virtual environment by donning a head-mounted 3D display and an electronic glove which they use to navigate their way through the computer-generated world.
Once inside participants view a random selection of computer-generated objects, including a telephone, a football and an umbrella. The person in the first room sees one object at a time, which they are asked to concentrate on and interact with.
The person in the other room is simultaneously presented with the same object plus three decoy objects. They are then asked to select the object they believe the other participant is trying to transmit.
The system was designed by Dr Craig Murray of the School of Psychological Sciences, and implemented by Toby Howard and Dr Fabrice Caillette from the School of Computer Science.
"This system has been designed to overcome the many pitfalls evident in previous studies which could easily be manipulated by participants to produce an effect which looks like telepathy but is not," explained Dr Howard.
"By creating a virtual environment we are creating a completely objective environment which makes it impossible for participants to leave signals or even unconscious clues as to which object they have chosen."
The system has been designed to make the task as realistic as possible. In addition to selecting objects and hearing the sounds they make, participants are able to hold and move them within the virtual environment.
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