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Claude Messier of the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa in Canada studies how the brain works and has attempted to analyze an out-of-body experience in a 24-year-old graduate student who claimed that she could induce one at will.
Messier (along with colleague Andra Smith) published the findings, titled “Voluntary Out-of-Body Experience: An fMRI Study” in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience earlier this year.
According to the paper, the subject told the researchers “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.”
Messier and Smith used a scanning technique known as fMRI to measure activity in different parts of the young woman’s brain during a self-induced out-of-body experience.
The findings appear to give some credence to her claims. Though she remained completely still during the test, the brain scans showed activity in areas of her brain that would typically be active only if she were moving, according to Messier.
But what was actually going on? Messier said that "out-of-body experiences are real ... but that it depends how you define it."
The impression of being outside your body or seeing your body from above “is an illusion – albeit for some people, a very lifelike one,” he told Yahoo Health.
Messier pointed out that people can fly and do other impossible things in their dreams, so the brain is definitely capable of creating strange visions and sensations. He said he believes that “the out-of-body experience is just a special illusion that happens when awake,” and “there is no implication of mental illness.”
And that's good news for many of the people who have written to him noting that they are not very happy with their abilities: Some reported that the experience was scary or that they worried that they were going mad. “They appeared reassured that the out-of-body experience could have a logical and benign explanation,” he said.
Messier emphasized that more research is needed, but he said that other researchers (Henrik Ehrsson and Olaf Blanke) have used virtual reality to induce mild versions of out-of-body experiences.
originally posted by: VegHead
I think there was a lot of bias in this article and in the conclusion of the researchers. Seeing evidence that the brain reacts to an OBE shouldn't be taken as evidence that OBEs are purely an illusion. That is a faulty and disconnected conclusion. Also, it completely fails to address the most compelling anecdotes (yes, anecdotal evidence... but mountains of it!) of people who see things during an OBE that they would otherwise have no way of knowing.
Messier said that "out-of-body experiences are real ... but that it depends how you define it."
The impression of being outside your body or seeing your body from above “is an illusion"
originally posted by: VegHead
Also, it completely fails to address the most compelling anecdotes (yes, anecdotal evidence... but mountains of it!) of people who see things during an OBE that they would otherwise have no way of knowing.