Google the terms “mid-brain activation” and one can find a number of websites promising, heaven, earth and the moon. But try the words “mid-brain activation myths busted”, and you will find a small, but steady number of pages dedicated to “exposing” these claims.  

Two such separate instances recently occurred in Kerala, and one of them involved journalists who were deeply skeptical of an institution’s claims. AbhA International Academy recently organised a press conference in Ernakulam claiming that children whose mid-brain had been successfully activated can do a variety of things such as read and identify colours by touching objects when blindfolded. The video of the event has gone viral on social media, thanks to journalists present who countered AbhA’s claims.   

In the video, children can be seen reading and identifying colours merely by touch when blindfolded. However, when journalists asked the children to hold the material behind their heads, they were unable to do so.  

In the video, an AbhA spokesperson can be heard saying that the children at the press meet were under training, not experts so they failed to read with a blindfold.  

“We have trained thousands of students all throughout Kerala. There are kids who have not succeeded. We do not ensure all kids will be successful for activation. We do not teach magic tricks,” he added.  

He also claimed that the brain activation was nothing new, and that it involved a mixture of brain health exercises, enthusiasm, leisure music and concentration development exercises where the child is trained to equally use right and left sides of the brain. However, in another such press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, magician Gopinath Muthukad had said that these feats were nothing but magic tricks. “It is a magic trick 100% and I can prove that. These types of programmes can mislead our future generation,” he told the media, and performed magic tricks blindfolded at the conference.  

Child Psychologist and researcher in child brain development Devika Radhakrishnan said,“It doesn’t give you supernatural powers, these claims are absurd.”  

Another video uploaded by the Kerala Freethinkers Forum also shows children being tested in a similar manner at an event in Kozhikode on April 19, and failing to perform the task as promised.  

This event however, was the result of a challenge thrown open by the Federation of Indian Rationalists’ Association. On their website Nirmukta, a man named Vinoj Surendran had accepted the challenge.  

What follows is a long conversation between Surendran and the president of the FIRA Narendra Nayak, along with comments from other people.  The gist of the challenge was that Nayak asked Surendran what he assures “his children” will do. Nayak demands that he be allowed to blindfold the child with his own material. They also discuss blocking the vision of the child, as opposed to hiding the object to be identified when blindfolded.  Vinoj says, “Everybody sees through eyes but our trained children see through pineal gland, the audio visual CPU of the brain. So you are not allowed to block or hide the object.”  

To Nayak’s suggestion that he be allowed to place the objects behind the child’s head, Surendran had this to say, “Our children are seeing through their mid-brain as I told you. But as they are children, their mind believes that they are seeing with their eyes. So the thing to be identified should be placed before them and you can prevent them seeing with their eyes. ‘seeing without eyes’ is our claim and not performing a magic show. But in the near future they can even see behind the head or beyond the wall and the only thing is to convince their mind about their ability.”  

Even as most of the terms of the challenge were negotiated, Surendran said that the children’s parents were “unwilling to use the children as a tool for any such experiment”. The FIRA went ahead with the demonstration where parents who had put their children through mid-brain development courses, tried to counter Nayak’s claims. But in both instances – in Kozhikode and the press conference in Ernakulam – the children started crying when they could not perform the feats.  

Many people, including Nayak and Muthukad, have alleged that claims to improve the mid-brain and make children capable of reading and seeing blindfolded are mere money-spinning exercises that play on parents’ gullibility.  Devika says that there is no scientific proof for any of these claims. “There is no proof and if it was easily possible then why can’t we create a world with majority of geniuses,” she said.  

Muthukad had said that these institutions charge hefty fees for very short courses, the duration of which may sometimes be just two days. “Basically they are (financial) frauds,” he alleged, adding that the training is costly as five day sessions usually cost around Rs 20,000.