October 10th, 2006



Out-of-Body Experience? Your Brain Is to Blame -- NY Times

Some areas of the brain combine information from several senses. Vision, hearing and touch are initially processed in the primary sensory regions. But then they flow together, like tributaries into a river, to create the wholeness of a person’s perceptions. A dog is visually recognized far more quickly if it is simultaneously accompanied by the sound of its bark.

These multisensory processing regions also build up perceptions of the body as it moves through the world. Sensors in the skin provide information about pressure, pain, heat, cold and similar sensations. Sensors in the joints, tendons and bones tell the brain where the body is positioned in space. Sensors in the ears track the sense of balance. And sensors in the internal organs, including the heart, liver and intestines, provide a readout of a person’s emotional state.

Real-time information from the body, the space around the body and the subjective feelings from the body are also represented in multisensory regions. And if these regions are directly simulated by an electric current, the integrity of the sense of body can be altered.

Brain, Dec. 2004
Out-of-body experience and autoscopy of neurological origin

Nature, Sept. 2006
Induction of an illusory shadow person

Prof. Olaf Blanke M.D., Ph.D.
Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience (LNCO)
Brain-Mind Institute
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)