Description: Have you heard of anyone having an out of body experience? Well this article describes how some researchers produced the subjective experience of an out of body experience while people were in an MRI scanner to the researchers could see what parts of the participants’ brains were involved in the pout of body sensations.
Source: live science: Out of body experience is traced in the brain
Date: April 30, 2015
Photo Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inicio_projecao.jpg
So leaving aside for a moment the question of whether we can or ever do actually travel outside of our bodies (look up lucid dreaming and flying sometime) what might it feel like to have such an experience and how would that experience map onto the functioning of our brain at the time (assuming we are not talking about an after death experience yet)? Researchers have devised ways of “convincing” people that they are no longer located in their body, or more specifically that their body is somewhere else in the room from where they are. Sound confusing, read the article to see what they did and how the participants’ experiences involved activities of a series of “GPS cells” in the hippocampal area of the brain. By the way, the discovery of the GPS cells lead to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Medicine last year.
The second link above is to an article describing what some researchers have done to “test” the veracity of near death out of body claims by cardiac patients. Their methodology is simple and interesting though so far they have not been able to utilize it (though not for ethical reasons) and have had to rely on subjective patient accounts (which have been viewed with great skepticism by the psychological research community)
Questions for Discussion:
- How did the researchers induce the feeling that the participants’ bodies were elsewhere in the room?
- What is your view of the experiences they created for their participants?
- What methodology has been set up to test the out of body claims of people experiencing near death moments?
References (Read Further):
Greyson, B. (2014). Corrigendum: Out-of-body experiences associated with seizures. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8.
Parnia, S., Spearpoint, K., de Vos, G., Fenwick, P., Goldberg, D., Yang, J., … & Schoenfeld, E. R. (2014). AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study. Resuscitation, 85(12), 1799-1805.
Charland-Verville, V., Lugo, Z., Jourdan, J. P., Donneau, A. F., & Laureys, S. (2015). Near-Death Experiences in patients with locked-in syndrome: Not always a blissful journey. Consciousness and cognition, 34, 28-32.