Scientists Unlock Mystery of Out-of-Body Experiences (OOBEs)

Inicio_projecaoCan scientists really explain OOBEs? The Sploid blog at Gizmodo reports that they can…

Some people claim that they have experienced out-of-body experiences—aka “astral trips”—floating outside of their bodies and watching themselves from the outside. A team of scientists found someone who says she can do this at will and put her into a brain scanner. What they discovered was surprisingly strange.

Andra M. Smith and Claude Messierwere from the University of Ottawa described this subject’s ability in their paper, published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience:

She was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body, lying flat, and rolling along with the horizontal plane. She reported sometimes watching herself move from above but remained aware of her unmoving “real” body. The participant reported no particular emotions linked to the experience.

How the hell is this possible? Can it be real? The researchers found that something dramatic, and consistent with her account, was happening in her brain: The fMRI showed a “strong deactivation of the visual cortex” while “activating the left side of several areas associated with kinesthetic imagery,” which includes mental imagery of bodily movement. This is the part of the brain that makes it possible for us to interact with the world. It’s what makes you feel where your body is in relation to the world.

This is the very first time that this type of experience has been analyzed and documented scientifically. Researchers know that out-of-body experiences can be induced “by brain traumas, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, dissociative and psychedelic drugs, dehydration, sleep, and electrical stimulation of the brain, among others. It can also be deliberately induced by some.” But this may be the first documented case of someone who can get into this state at will…

{continues at Sploid blog at Gizmodo]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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20 Comments on "Scientists Unlock Mystery of Out-of-Body Experiences (OOBEs)"

  1. Daniel Gill | Mar 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm |

    David Gordon White included the debate around astral projection in his book Sinister Yogis . I’ve also read Journey Of A Healer: Mediums And Sorcerers Of South Viet Nam by Hien Van Nguyen . I feel that I am able to astral project an image of my Self through a kind of noetic imagination, but I am still in my body’s typical perceptives of sight hearing smell and so on . When I imagine myself somewhere else, I can put a soul double so to speak outside of myself, but I can feel effects as if I am really there. We don’t have one soul, that is either here or there, but the soul is something amorphous that can be in many places at once, through contagious magic and so on.

    It’s more like projection of an astral . The only other times I have been projected fully outside of my body is in waking dreams. But I don’t consider lucid or waking dreams to be truly astral projection for the purposes of this discussion.

    That’s my 2 cents .

    I haven’t read David White’s book for a little while but if I remember correctly there was a school so to speak of yogic thought that believed that a full separation from the physical body was impossible . It couldn’t be done. it would mean you have died. a lot of those people felt that astral projection was more like creating a homunculus .

  2. It’s more like projection of an astral . The only other times I have been projected fully outside of my body is in waking dreams. But I don’t consider lucid or waking dreams to be truly astral projection for the purposes of this discussion.

  3. Perhaps, as QM suggests there really is no “outside” to project to. It could be that “outside” is just a convenient metaphor.
    Maybe it’s more useful to frame the OOBE as accessing different information by an act of will or intent. That works better, for me anyway.

  4. Kevin Leonard | Mar 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm |

    When people make assertions … “This is not an astral trip, like those described by mystics. There’s no paranormal activity of any kind.

    followed by belief statements … “….scientists believe that these out-of-body experiences are a type of hallucination … The researchers of this paper speculate…

    while admitting a lack of evidence… “The fact is that, even while there aren’t a lot of solid experiments on this subject”.

    I shall rely on my personal experience.

    • Haystack | Mar 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm |

      But if you want to know why you’re experiencing that, what do you rely upon?

      • Kevin Leonard | Mar 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm |

        Well, “why” is a philosophical question, to me. “How” is something that material scientists have not been able to answer convincingly. But I am curious, and I do not discount physical correlates, so I read these articles. And if ever someone can create a device that launches a person into a genuine OBE on a consistent basis, I will be grateful.

        • Science is tentative by nature.

          I know what you mean about the device. It always annoys me when I read an article about how scientists can induce OBEs (or some other cool phenomenon) in a laboratory, but, for some reason, haven’t released a consumer version of the requisite gadgetry in a store near me.

          • MichaelVandiver | Mar 8, 2014 at 2:03 am |

            Because making something for a consumer has to be two things, potentially profitable enough to invest in and safe enough to not have whoever is making the device not be sued into oblivion. I can understand not wanting to be the first person out there to make consumer device that screw directly with the human brain.

  5. Have spent the past 6 months or so reading and watching everything I can find by this guy.

  6. Kevin Leonard | Mar 7, 2014 at 1:08 pm |

    Actually, her description of her experience doesn’t describe a classical OBE.

    “I feel myself moving, or, more accurately, can make myself feel as if I am moving. I know perfectly well that I am not actually moving. There is no duality of body and mind when this happens, not really. In fact, I am hyper-sensitive to my body at that point, because I am concentrating so hard on the sensation of moving. I am the one moving – me – my body. For example, if I ‘spin’ for long enough, I get dizzy. I do not see myself above my body. Rather, my whole body has moved up. I feel it as being above where I know it actually is. I usually also picture myself as moving up in my mind’s eye, but the mind is not substantive. It does not move unless the body does.”

    • not like any oobe ive had, either. i always feel 2 or even more bodies distinctly

  7. Hoarfraust | Mar 7, 2014 at 2:40 pm |

    Scientists don’t even understand what consciousness is.

    • Simiantongue | Mar 8, 2014 at 10:21 am |

      Never seen, heard or read of anyone that did. Though all the supposedly “spiritual” lines of investigation have had all of human history to investigate it and explain it to us, with nothing substantive to report.

      • then you should check out Teal Swan (or Teal Scott or TheSpiritualCatalyst on youtube)
        she’ll explain what consciousness is where does it come from why are we here and all of those big questions.

        • Simiantongue | Mar 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm |

          Watched an hour interview. To be honest I’ve had coffee enemas that were more enlightening that that. As I’m not a caffeine drinker and the anal lining can absorb drugs at a much higher rate it was quite an experience I can tell you. I found out that’s can be referred to as a type of mainlining. I think I had some kind of adrenal fatigue for days afterward, but at least I learned something.

          I got nothing from Teal. She made up some nice sounding words that explained fuck all. I wonder if she would be as popular if she were ugly and overweight? You know people are more likely to take what others say more seriously if they’re attractive. Just one of those things. I forgive you for wasting my time on some self help huckster.

  8. Reuben_the_Red | Mar 8, 2014 at 11:02 am |

    Wait, so science is confirming that when people say they have strange experiences and perceptions, they’re not lying? They really do have strange experiences and perceptions??? Strange!!!

    There’s no paranormal activity of any kind.
    There’s no paranormal activity of any kind.
    There’s no paranormal activity of any kind.
    There’s no paranormal activity of any kind.
    There’s no paranormal activity of any kind.
    There’s no paranormal activity of any kind.
    Because Science says so, that’s why.

    • Simiantongue | Mar 8, 2014 at 8:25 pm |

      Do you know what they call it when something paranormal has an explanation? Normal.

  9. ive been able to do this and it mostly involves a strong sense of muscle memory, remembering what it feels like to move yer arm, for example

  10. Edwrad D Salk | Mar 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm |

    These same people who can activate in synch the other centers and isolate them have the capacity to remote view @ the same time…ahhh…now you understand…mind over matter as well as over time and space.

  11. Bruce Johnson | Mar 9, 2014 at 10:59 am |

    “Considering consciousness has yet to be demonstrated to be generated by the brain”But conversely, absence of a brain has certainly been proven to induce unconsciousness.

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