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Neuropsychology

Stimulating illusory own-body perceptions

The part of the brain that can induce out-of-body experiences has been located.

Abstract

'Out-of-body' experiences (OBEs) are curious, usually brief sensations in which a person's consciousness seems to become detached from the body and take up a remote viewing position1,2,3. Here we describe the repeated induction of this experience by focal electrical stimulation of the brain's right angular gyrus in a patient who was undergoing evaluation for epilepsy treatment. Stimulation at this site also elicited illusory transformations of the patient's arm and legs (complex somatosensory responses) and whole-body displacements (vestibular responses), indicating that out-of-body experiences may reflect a failure by the brain to integrate complex somatosensory and vestibular information1,2,3.

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Figure 1: Three-dimensional surface reconstruction of the right hemisphere of the brain from magnetic-resonance imaging.

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Correspondence to Olaf Blanke.

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Blanke, O., Ortigue, S., Landis, T. et al. Stimulating illusory own-body perceptions. Nature 419, 269–270 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/419269a

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