Out Of Body Experiences Can Now Be Triggered
Sep 16, 2007 by Peter Jameson
Many people have out of body experiences or O.B.E.'s as they are often known and they occur spontaneously.
Others experience them during moments of danger and still others experience them when taking various drugs or even alcohol.
Now however, experts have found a way to trigger out of body experiences. The experiments, reported in 'Science Journal' offer a scientific explanation for a phenomenon that is experienced by one in ten people.
Two separate teams used virtual reality goggles which tricked the brain into thinking that the body was located elsewhere and this visual illusion plus the feel of their real bodies being touched made volunteers sense that they had moved outside of their physical bodies.
The researchers say their findings might have practical applications such as taking video games to the next level by enabling players to feel that they are actually inside the game. Surgeons might be able to perform operations on patients thousands of miles away by controlling a robotic virtual self.
Dr,. Henrik Ehrsson - "We feel that our self is located where the eyes are".
It seems from the experiment that those who unhappy or less in touch with their body are more likely to have an OBE!
However, University College London, U.K. and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne believe that there is a neurological explanation and say that their work suggests that a disconnection between the brain circuits that process visual and touch sensory information might be responsible for some O.B.E.'s.
In the Swiss experiments the researchers asked volunteers to stand in front of a camera whilst wearing video-display goggles and when using these goggles the volunteers were able to see a camera view of their own back which resembled a 3D "virtual own body" that appeared to be standing in front of them.
When the researchers stroked the volunteer's back with a pen the volunteer could see their virtual back being stroked either simultaneously or sometimes with a slight time lag.
The volunteers said that the sensation seemed to be caused by the pen on their virtual back rather than their real back and made them feel as if the virtual body was their own rather than simply a hologram.
Perhaps even stranger was that when the camera was switched to film the back of a mannequin that was being stroked instead of their own backs' the volunteers still reported feeling it as if the virtual mannequin's body was their own and when the researchers turned off the goggles and guided the volunteers back a few paces and asked them to walk back to where they had been standing the volunteers overshot their target and returned nearer to the position of their "virtual self"!!
Dr. Henrik Ehrsson who led the UCL research used a similar setup in his tests and found that the volunteers also had a physiological response i.e. increased skin sweating when they felt their virtual self was being threatened as when they thought that it was about to be hit by a hammer.
Dr Ehrsson said: "This experiment suggests that the first person visual perspective is critically important for the in-body experience. In other words, we feel that our self is located where the eyes are".
Dr Susan Blackmore who is a psychologist and a visiting lecturer at the University of the 'West of England', said: "This has at last brought O.B.E.'s into the lab and tested one of the main theories of how they occur. Scientists have long suspected that the clue to these extraordinary and sometimes life changing, experiences lies in disrupting our normal illusion of being a self behind our eyes and replacing it with a new viewpoint from above or behind".