The God Helmet

7th October 2020. Reading Time: 9 minutes General, Paranormal Equipment. 1632 page views. 1 comments.

Otherwise known as ‘The Shiva’, The God Helmet is an experimental and controversial device said to produce ‘god-like visions’ and induce altered states of consciousness including out of body experiences and sightings of apparitions.

Otherwise known as ‘The Shiva’, The God Helmet is an experimental and controversial device said to produce ‘god-like visions’ and induce altered states of consciousness including out-of-body experiences and sightings of apparitions.

The God Helmet was originally dubbed ‘The Koren Helmet’ by a journalist reporting on a strange laboratory apparatus created in Laurentian University’s Neuroscience Department.  Under the direction and specifications of program director Dr. M.A. Persigner, neuroscientist Stanley Koren developed an experimental object which was designed to study religious experiences and creativity. The aim was to merge science and religion to try and understand the role our brain plays in religious, mystical, and creative experiences.  The helmet was named after Stanley Koren, however is now more widely known as the God Helmet due to the god-like experiences it is said to induce.  

In the 1980s Persigner was watching an EEG of a woman who was meditating in his lab.  After claiming to have an encounter with God, Persinger used the same brain patterns he observed to see if could induce a similar state in other people.

Basically, she was having what we call an absence seizure. It was localized, so it would be technically speaking a complex partial epileptic seizure. Right hemisphere. And I looked at her and she smiled… You’ve seen people have god experiences, their face has that glow about them, from the sebaceous secretion, their eyes may flutter, when they’re feeling that kind of euphoria that goes with an ecstatic state or rapture

Dr. M.A. Persigner

Image Source:

How does it work?

The helmet works by using a network of low-intensity magnetic signals specifically focusing on the amygdala and the hippocampus which are the areas of the brain thought to be associated with how we understand God and religion. The signals mimic ‘brain waves’ that come from the deep parts of the brain.  These signals cause a disruption to the brain causing the left and right sides of the brain to communicate. 

If you would like a more technical understanding of how the signals are programmed etc, you can go straight to the source:

The helmet is connected to a computer through a black box which cycles the signals through 4 coils on each side of the head. They sit over the area the temporal lobes are that researchers believe are the source of spiritual and religious experiences. Sessions are held in a sensory deprivation environment (meaning eliminating sight and sound) with a big emphasis on silence.  It is thought that the temporal lobe which the helmet is trying to stimulate is constantly monitoring ambient sound and the sound can interfere with the results of the experiment.  As there are no ear covers on the helmet, a special acoustic chamber was used during some of the experiments during trials.

Can the God Helmet create a ghost?

Paranormal investigators and psychics have been experimenting with the God Helmet over the last couple of decades with the thought that it could open up an altered state of consciousness and allow a person to communicate with what they believe to be a spirit, ghost or even a form of higher being.  It does indeed seem that the helmet does subject the participant to ‘paranormal’ experiences where they feel a presence.  Whether or not it is truly paranormal of course we don't know.  Sometimes they see the presence and some claim they can also communicate with it as well. 

Similar technologies have been shown in documentaries on YouTube and mainstream paranormal reality television claiming they can increase a person's psychic abilities.  One of the earlier appearances it made was on the television program 'Paranormal State' around 11 years ago dubbed 'The Shakti Helmet'.

Psychologists have also been experimenting with the device and its principal to see if they can recreate the same kind of experience that people claim to have when they feel they are in the presence of a ghost.  Their studies have suggested that stimulating this section of the brain induces what is called a ‘sensed presence’.

The basic mechanism by which sensed presence occurs is that there is an enhancement of right hemispheric activity and that ultimately ends up being represented within the left hemisphere and you become aware of it,” said Persinger. In other words, the sense of self that is generated in the left hemisphere might become aware of the experience of the right hemisphere, and interpret that as a self. Because we can’t have two selves, the information is re-understood to be coming from someone else entirely, a presence.

Dr. M.A. Persigner

One such study set out to understand if what a person was experiencing was in fact a form of apparition or a ghost or if it was the sensed presence mentioned above.

To test the hypothesis that experiences of apparitional phenomena with accompanying fear can be simulated within the laboratory, a 45-yr.-old journalist and professional musician who had experienced a classic haunt four years previously was exposed to 1 microTesla, complex, transcerebral magnetic fields. Within 10 min. after exposure to a frequency-modulated pattern applied over the right hemisphere, the man reported "rushes of fear" that culminated in the experience of an apparition. Concurrent electroencephalographic measurements showed conspicuous 1-sec.-to-2-sec. paroxysmal complex spikes (15 Hz) that accompanied the reports of fear. A second magnetic field pattern, applied bilaterally through the brain, was associated with pleasant experiences. The subject concluded that the synthetic experience of the apparition was very similar to the one experienced in the natural setting. The results of this experiment suggest that controlled simulation of these pervasive phenomena within the laboratory is possible and that this experimental protocol may help discern the physical stimuli that evoke their occurrence in nature.
Experimental simulation of a haunt experience and elicitation of paroxysmal electroencephalographic activity by transcerebral complex magnetic fields: induction of a synthetic "ghost"?
M A Persinger 1, S G Tiller, S A Koren

Further studies have added a ‘haunted room’ element to testing where participants were in a dark round room which deployed weak magnetic fields similar to those of the god helmet while adding infrasound and sub-audible sounds which have already been proven to cause a feeling of being watched or in the presence of something paranormal.  Researchers claimed that while the participants felt they were experiencing something paranormal, they felt it was more a result of the sensory deprivation and power of suggestion.  

A simplified version of the helmet often used by the spiritual community.  Image Source:

Is it a placebo?

There are various studies to suggest that it is all in the power of suggestion rather than in the magnetic waves themselves.

In the present EEG study a placebo God Helmet was used to induce spiritual experiences in the lab, by boosting the expectations and suggestibility of participants. At a behavioral level it was found that instructions regarding whether the helmet was turned on or off were not effective, but that individual differences in beliefs in the effectiveness of the helmet, magical ideation, absorption and paranormal beliefs were strongly related to induced spiritual experiences. At a neural level, believers compared to skeptics were characterized by trend for increased theta / alpha power during the helmet session and trend for a reduced auditory suppression of the P2 component. These novel findings indicate that individual personality differences are a strong predictor of induced spiritual experiences and that reduced sensory suppression may reflect a reduced pre-reflective sense of agency, which in turn could underlie proneness to self-induced spiritual experiences.
An EEG Study on the Effects of Induced Spiritual Experiences on Somatosensory Processing and Sensory Suppression
Michiel van Elk
Issued Date: 30 Sep 2015

Belief seems to play a role in how successful your experience with the helmet is.  Something that ties in well with paranormal research when you look at it on the same level.  Would a person have had the same experience without the helmet?  If they used the helmet yet it was not plugged in and they thought it was working would they have the same experience?  Our mind and our will is extremely powerful.  I do often wonder if a lot of what we experience is because we unknowingly 'will' it to be?

The research surrounding this device is way too detailed and long to summarize in just this one article but it certainly gives food for thought.  I encourage you to read some of the studies related to this and even ask around.  A lot of people know about the helmet and with similar devices now available on the market, a lot of people have done some sort of experimentation in a paranormal setting.  

Dr. M.A. Persigner and a subject Image Source:

Many people argue there are similar ways to induce these feelings especially using sensory deprivation like in the Ganzfeld Experiment and the simple act of using white noise.  Others have said they can achieve the same result by using deep meditation.  Whether or not this does open up a part of the brain or makes us hallucinate or see things we don't normally see like many areas of the paranormal is up for debate.  It is important however to look at the very core of what its creator intended it for:

That is, the brain is generating all experiences: The experience of love, the experience of knowing who you are, the sense of presence, the sense of yourself, the feeling that you’re real and that you’re important, these are all products of brain activity in terms of various configurations within different regions in the brain.

Dr. M.A. Persigner

Maybe the God Helmet is not about finding god or a spirit, but finding yourself and therein lie the answers?

* Please be mindful before using any technology sold over the internet that manipulates brain waves please understand the medical risks involved when using such technology.  Trials that were undertaken in laboratory conditions saw participants hooked up to monitors by professionals to monitor their health and safety.


David L. R. Maij, Michiel van Elk & Uffe Schjoedt (2019) The role of alcohol in expectancy-driven mystical experiences: a pre-registered field study using placebo brain stimulation, Religion, Brain & Behavior, 9:2, 108-125, DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2017.1403952

An EEG Study on the Effects of Induced Spiritual Experiences on Somatosensory Processing and Sensory Suppression
Michiel van Elk
Issued Date: 30 Sep 2015

Experimental simulation of a haunt experience and elicitation of paroxysmal electroencephalographic activity by transcerebral complex magnetic fields: induction of a synthetic "ghost"?
M A Persinger 1, S G Tiller, S A Koren


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  • Todd Murphy 3 years ago

    There is a reply to the article on suggestion here:
    In brief, it says that the effects that were obtained from the 'placebo helmet' were about the same as what Dr. Michael Persinger saw from his placebo subjects. The Authors of the 'fake" God Helmet article didn't compare their control subjects to any actual stimulation. When the two are compared, we see very large differences between the actual God Helmet results and those from the 'fake' God Helmet.
    There is also a (20 minute) YouTube video going over it, here: