Neurophilosophy

Experimentally-induced out-of-body experiences

Olaf Blanke, of the Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, explains how it was done:

Read more about the study at New Scientist and Ars Technica.

Comments

  1. #1 carolyn13
    August 23, 2007

    If we depend on visual cues to locate ourselves within the body, where do blind people locate their sense of self? Are there more reports of a sense of dislocation, including out of body experiences, in the blind?

  2. #2 Mo
    August 23, 2007

    Proprioception involves more than just visual cues. For example, blind people can use sensory information from the hands and feet.

  3. #3 carolyn13
    August 23, 2007

    Thanks, Mo. I had read a BBC article about this experiment earlier today that implied our sense of location is mainly visual. If proprioception involves all sensory clues, this may be why so many people find VR a disorienting and irritating experience. It may take a holodeck to make it fun.

  4. #4 puttputt
    August 28, 2007

    This requires stroking but doesn’t precise where to stroke. Maybe if someplaces are stroked you can get-out-of-mind experiences.

  5. #5 Nelson Abreu
    September 21, 2007

    The above article mistakenly described the experiences produced by the research teams as out-of-body experiences. The journal Science and Science News (AAAS) describe that “this week’s issue of Science, two teams of cognitive neuroscientists independently report methods for inducing elements of an out-of-body experience in healthy volunteers. “ The operating word is elements. The experiences reported by the volunteers have 3 elements of some out-of-body experiences but they were not in fact out-of-body experiences – a distinct state of consciousness and neurophysiology from the normal waking state.

    The OBE is characterized by a visceral feeling of being embodied in a more subtle body away from the physical body itself, often with exotic “energetic,” “take-off” and “re-interiorization” sensations. In the virtual reality experiment volunteers did not feel they were no longer present in their body and did not report these other characteristics of the OBE (significantly more numerous than the 3 selected by the researchers).

    In an OBE, the individual is not always looking back at the physical body at a few feet of distance (although this can occur in some cases). OBE’s are not always a visual phenomena either, as there are OBE’s without sight and blind people may have OBE’s. The majority of OBE’s also occur mainly when the eyes are closed and when the body is in a more vegetative state with brain wave patterns distinct from even lucid dreaming — let alone the normal waking state of the volunteers.

    Nelson Abreu

    International Academy of Consciousness

    Miami, United States