Shooting Suspect Fascinated by Mental 'Illusions'

Sunday, 22 Jul 2012 08:32 PM

 

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When he was 18, before he was awarded a neurosciences research grant from the National Institutes of Health or was accused of killing a dozen people in a Colorado movie theater, James Holmes began studying the workings of biology and psychology.

During science camp at Miramar College in San Diego six years ago, Holmes focused on temporal illusions, which he described as “an illusion that allows you to change the past,” according to a video of a presentation released today by ABC News.

Holmes, wearing an oversized collared gray shirt at the Miramar College presentation, said he also studied subjective experience, or “what takes place inside the mind, as opposed to the external world.”

What took place inside Holmes’s mind is the subject of investigations trying to unravel why the 24-year-old graduate student who qualified for a competitive federal grant was transformed into a man police say amassed a cache of arms and ammunition, booby-trapped his apartment with explosives and opened fire on moviegoers, including children.

“We still can’t get into the mind of this twisted, really delusional individual,” Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today. There’s been no indication so far of motive, “I mean not an iota, nothing,” he said.

In the wake of the shooting, as the international press descended on the theater and apartment in Aurora, Colorado, and his parents’ neighborhood in San Diego, the image of Holmes is one of a man who excelled in science.

The University of Colorado-Denver said Holmes attended the Graduate School of the Anschutz Medical Campus to study how the brain works, particularly “processing of information, behavior, learning and memory.”

He was one of six pre-thesis Ph.D. students selected for a program “on training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology,” according to a university statement.

Holmes “decided to withdraw from the program in June 2012,” giving no reason for leaving, according to the university.


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