Laurentian University's Michael Persinger, human brain researcher, dies

A Sudbury, Ont. university professor known internationally for his advanced research on the human brain has died.
Laurentian University professor Michael Persinger. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC )

A Sudbury, Ont. university professor known internationally for his advanced research on the human brain has died.

Laurentian University confirmed the death of Michael Persinger on social media.

He had been a neuroscience professor at the university since 1971. He's known around the world for one of his research projects called "The God Helmet," in which a person's temporal lobes were stimulated to replicate the feeling of having another presence in the room.

His research even inspired artists to paint a rooftop mural of a man wearing "The God Helmet" on top of Sudbury's Science North.

Controversy in the classroom

In 2016, he made headlines after he was stopped from teaching a first year class after asking students to sign off on his use of vulgar language.

Students were asked to sign a 'Statement of Understanding' during their first class. It listed a sample of words that could be used during class, including the F-word, homophobic slurs and offensive slang for genitalia.

"One of my techniques is to expose people to all types of different words," he told CBC Sudbury in 2016.

"Silly words, complex words, emotional words, profane words. Because they influence how you make decisions and how you think."

Persinger said he had used the form for more than 10 years, but later in 2016, he was told he was no no longer teaching the course. His union filed a grievance against the school for violating Persinger's academic freedom.

Some students also started a petition at the time to have Persinger reinstated to teach the course.