If someone zaps a certain area in your brain, you will experience floating out of your body. A similar effect can be obtained by transferring your self awareness into another person or object by hijacking your brain’s “this is me” body cues such as visual perception, breathing and heartbeat.
Olaf Blanke, a neurosurgeon at University Hospitals of Geneva and Lausanne, wasn’t trying to set off the sensations in his patient but was using electrical stimulation to map the activity of her brain in preparation for surgical treatment. But by recording the patient’s reactions and matching them with specific electrodes, Blanke was able to pinpoint the region where out-of-body experiences seem to originate.
“We wanted [and needed] to be sure that what the patient experienced and told us was related to the actual stimulation,” says Blanke.
When Blanke and colleagues activated electrodes placed just above the patient’s right ear — a region known as the right angular gyrus — the woman began to have the strange sensations. Depending on the amplitude of the stimulation and the current position of the patient’s body, her experience varied. Each of the patient’s four episodes lasted about two seconds.
After one stimulation, the patient said she felt as though she were sinking into her bed and then she felt as though she were “falling from a height.” After another stimulation she said felt like she was “floating” about 6½ feet above her bed, close to the ceiling. When she was asked to watch her legs during the stimulation, the patient said she saw her legs “becoming shorter.” …
Here’s one theory of how leaving your body works during brain stimulation, as experience during brain surgery has shown:
The angular gyrus reacts differently to intended and consequential movement. This suggests that the angular gyrus monitors the self’s intended movements, and uses the added information to compute differently as it does for consequential movements. By recording the discrepancy, the angular gyrus maintains an awareness of the self.
Another hint that this brain area results in part of our experience of “self” is experimentation in stimulating the area to treat those with disembodiment disorders.
Depersonalization disorder is marked by periods of feeling disconnected or detached from one’s body and thoughts (depersonalization). The disorder is sometimes described as feeling like you are observing yourself from outside your body or like being in a dream. However, people with this disorder do not lose contact with reality; they realize that things are not as they appear. An episode of depersonalization can last anywhere from a few minutes to many years.
… investigators are testing the therapeutic efficacy of neuronavigated repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) of right angular gyrus in patients with depersonalization disorder.
Amazingly, one woman could leave her body at will, as she wished.
While she was getting her float on, the MRI showed a deactivation of her visual cortex, while the part of her brain responsible for imagining body movement lit up. This particular portion of the brain is responsible for “kinesthetic imagery,” the thing that allows you understand how your body relates to the world around it. It seems that this particular combination of brain function allowed the woman to feel as though she was floating outside of her physical body.
With this new information on-hand, the researchers are saying that OOBEs are basically a very specific type of hallucination triggered by a certain neurological mechanism. While this woman can activate it by choice, other people who have claimed to have OOBEs have suffered from traumatic brain injuries, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, dehydration, and other occurrences that could have potentially altered what goes on in their brains.
Sadly, this means your soul is likely staying firmly planted in your body for the time being, Astral Projectors. Better luck next time.
The waking out-of-body experience (OOBE) feels real but you can’t see anything as you float around other than what is in your subconscious imagination. However, because everything we ever experience is a brain representation of reality, you can experience quite a lot, in very realistic detail.
There will be odd quirks, of course, clues, like certain things that are impossible, but the illusion will be quite convincing. If you master waking OOBE, you could walk around in your own subconscious mind, seeing things you missed with your conscious attention. It would be similar to vivid lucid dreaming, except accessed from an awake state.
How can you have this experience while awake, without electrodes in your brain?
As leaving the body can be part of a serious psychological disorder associated with brain damage, some may not want to try, but there are ways to hack your brain to experience leaving all or part of your body.
A visual projection of human heartbeats can be used to generate an “out-of-body experience,” according to new research to be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings could inform new kinds of treatment for people with self-perception disorders, including anorexia.
The study, conducted by Jane Aspell of Anglia Ruskin University in the UK and Lukas Heydrich of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, is novel in that it shows that information about the internal state of the body — in this case, the heartbeat — can be used to change how people experience their own body and self.
Volunteers in the study were fitted with a head mounted display (HMD), which served as “virtual reality goggles.” They were filmed in real time by a video camera connected to the HMD, which allowed them to view their own body standing two meters in front of them.
By also recording the volunteers’ heartbeat signals using electrodes, the timing of the heartbeat was used to trigger a bright flashing outline which was superimposed on the virtual body shown via the HMD.
After watching the outline flash on and off in sync with the heartbeat for several minutes, the subjects experienced a stronger identification with the virtual body, reporting that it felt more like their own body. They also perceived that they were at a different location in the room than their physical body, reporting feeling closer to their double than they actually were, and they experienced touch at a different location to their physical body.
“This research demonstrates that the experience of one’s self can be altered when presented with information about the internal state of one’s body, such as a heartbeat,” says Aspell.
“This is compatible with the theory that the brain generates our experience of self by merging information about our body from multiple sources, including the eyes, the skin, the ears, and even one’s internal organs.”
Did these researches know that the ancient Egyptians believed that the heart “ib” housed the individual consciousness of a person? My theory is that 3,000 year old civilization had discovered via observations that the sense self is tied to the hearbeat.
While not as surprising to those who view awareness as a brain function, for some spiritual thinkers the fact that electrical stimulation of a brain region will trigger an OOBE is shocking.
What? Really? The body has a “spirit eject” button?
Here is another way to leave your body that does not require brain surgery:
The Rope Technique is one of the most effective. In bed in the dark, imagine a rope hanging from your ceiling. Reach out with your imaginary hands and pull yourself, hand over hand, up the strong, invisible rope. Keep going until you feel a slight dizzy sensation. Keep going and let this intensify until you feel vibrations start. Your whole body will seem to be vibrating and you will feel paralyzed as if a warm lead blanket is keeping your arms and legs from moving. Concentrate single mindedly, on climbing your rope. No stopping. You will feel yourself start to separate from your body. You will leave your body in the direction of your imaginary ROPE and will be hovering above your body. Free at last!
From there, go have some fun, talk to someone you miss, go to an interesting place, or fly. The only limit is your imagination.