Scientists recreate out-of-body experience

Posted on Sunday, Aug 26 2007 @ 00:10 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
It's claimed that one in ten people experience a phenomenon called out-of-body experience. Scientists managed to recreate such an experience with the help of virtual reality goggles to con the brain into thinking the body was located elsewhere.

BBC News reports the findings could have some practical applications, for instance, it might be used to take video games to the next level of virtuality so players feel as if they are actually inside the game.
For some, out-of-body experiences or OBEs occurs spontaneously, while for others it is linked to dangerous circumstances, a near-death experience, a dream-like state or use of alcohol or drugs.

One theory is that it is down to how people perceive their own body - those unhappy or less in touch with their body are more likely to have an OBE.

But the two teams, from University College London, UK, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, believe there is a neurological explanation.

Their work suggests a disconnection between the brain circuits that process visual and touch sensory information may thus be responsible for some OBEs.

In the Swiss experiments, the researchers asked volunteers to stand in front of a camera while wearing video-display goggles.

Through these goggles, the volunteers could see a camera view of their own back - a three-dimensional "virtual own body" that appeared to be standing in front of them.

When the researchers stroked the back of the volunteer with a pen, the volunteer could see their virtual back being stroked either simultaneously or with a time lag.

The volunteers reported that the sensation seemed to be caused by the pen on their virtual back, rather than their real back, making them feel as if the virtual body was their own rather than a hologram.


About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.



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