Out-of-body experiences have been intriguing people for years. About 10% of people will experience life altering phenomena, but this number may soon increase thanks to new technology. Scientists have discovered a way to recreate the heightened spirituality and strange phenomena many people report after a near-death experience. Through the use of virtual reality goggles, volunteers were taken on enlightened adventures that had them feeling they had left their physical bodies behind.
The discovery could take video games to new heights, letting gamers immerse themselves in virtual worlds like never before.
Even more astounding are the medical possibilities. "Clinically, surgeons might also be able to perform operations on patients thousands of miles away by controlling a robotic virtual self," the BBC reported.
Naturally, out-of-body experiences tend to occur in life-threatening situations, or when using drugs or alcohol. The exact cause is still unknown, but scientists believe it has to do with the way in which people perceive their physical form. "Those unhappy or less in touch with their body are more likely to have an OBE."
For any spiritual happening, scientists come with a scientific explanation, and that's just what researchers in London and Switzerland have done. They attribute the experiences to "a disconnection between the brain circuits that process visual and touch sensory information."
Volunteers for the Swiss experiment wore virtual-reality goggles that offered them a live view of themselves from behind, so their virtual selves were standing right in front of them.
"When the researchers stroked the back of the volunteer with a pen, the volunteer could see their virtual back being stroked either simultaneously or with a time lag. The volunteers reported that the sensation seemed to be caused by the pen on their virtual back, rather than their real back, making them feel as if the virtual body was their own rather than a hologram."