Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center
Alvarado, C.S. (2011). On doubles and excursions from the physical body, 1876–1956. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25, 563-580.
“This Essay Review is about the ideas of a group of authors who contributed to constructing and maintaining the concept that some principle inherent in human beings was capable of leaving the physical body, and thus accounted for phenomena such as apparitions of the living and what later came to be called out-of-body and near-death experiences. The authors in question believed the phenomena were explained by the projection of a spirit, or some sort of subtle body sometimes referred to as a ‘double,’ from the physical body.” The review includes “On the Trans-Corporeal Action of Spirit” by William Stainton Moses
(under the pseudonym M. A. Oxon; Human Nature, 10, 1876, 97–125, 145–157); Posthumous Humanity: A Study of Phantoms, by Adolphe D’Assier (London: George Redway, 1887); Le Fantôme des Vivants, by Hector Durville (Paris: Librairie du Magnétisme, 1909), The Case for Astral Projection by Sylvan J. Muldoon (Chicago: Ariel Press, 1936); Les Phénomènes de Bilocation, by Ernesto Bozzano (Paris: Jean Meyer, 1937); The Phenomena of Astral Projection, by Sylvan J. Muldoon and Hereward Carrington (London: Rider, 1951); “ESP Projection: Spontaneous Cases and the Experimental Method,” by Hornell Hart (Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 48, 1954, 121–146); and “Six Theories about Apparitions” by Hornell Hart et al. (Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 50, 1956, 153–239).
Braithwaite, J.J., Samson. D., Apperly, I., Broglia, E., & Hulleman, J. (2011). Cognitive correlates of the spontaneous out-of-body experience (OBE) in the psychologically normal population: Evidence for an increased role of temporal-lobe instability, body-distortion processing, and impairments in own-body transformations. Cortex, 47, 839-853.
Recent findings from studies of epileptic patients and schizotypes have suggested that disruptions in multi-sensory integration processes may underlie a predisposition to report out-of-body experiences. It has been argued that these disruptions lead to a breakdown in own-body processing and embodiment. Here we present two studies which provide the first investigation of predisposition to OBEs in the normal population as measured primarily by the recently devised Cardiff anomalous perception scale (CAPS). The Launay-Slade Hallucination scale (LSHS) was also employed to provide a measure of general hallucination proneness. In Study 1, 63 University students participated in the study, 17 of whom (26%) claimed to have experienced at least one OBE in their lifetime. OBEers reported significantly more perceptually anomalies (elevated CAPS scores) but these were primarily associated with specific measures of temporal-lobe instability and body-distortion processing. Study 2 demonstrated that OBEers and those scoring high on measures of temporal-lobe instability/body-distortion processing were significantly impaired, relative to controls, at a task requiring mental own-body transformations (OBTs). These results extend the findings from epileptic patient studies to the psychologically normal population and are consistent with there being a disruption in temporal-lobe and body-based processing underlying OBE-type experiences.
Brandt, C., Kramme, C., Storm, H., & Pohlmann-Eden, B. (2009). Out-of-body experience and auditory and visual hallucinations in a patient with cardiogenic syncope: Crucial role of cardiac event recorder in establishing the diagnosis. Epilepsy and Behavior, 15, 254-255.
Out-of-body experience (OBE) and visual and auditory hallucinations can occur in a variety of medical conditions. We describe a 48-year-old male patient who experienced several paroxysmal events with different combinations of the aforementioned symptoms that could finally be attributed to cardiogenic syncope after subcutaneous implantation of an event recorder and that ceased after implantation of a cardiac pacemaker. Hallucinations and OBE are well-known phenomena in syncope. The special purpose of this report is to highlight the crucial role of implantation of the event recorder in establishing the diagnosis and the additional support of the diagnosis by the cessation after implanting the cardiac pacemaker.
Smith, A.M., & Messier, C. (2014). Voluntary out-of-body experience: An fMRI study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8:70. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00070
The present single-case study examined functional brain imaging patterns in a participant that reported being able, at will, to produce somatosensory sensations that are experienced as her body moving outside the boundaries of her physical body all the while remaining aware of her unmoving physical body. We found that the brain functional changes associated with the reported extra-corporeal experience (ECE) were different than those observed in motor imagery. Activations were mainly left-sided and involved the left supplementary motor area and supramarginal and posterior superior temporal gyri, the last two overlapping with the temporal parietal junction that has been associated with out-of-body experiences. The cerebellum also showed activation that is consistent with the participant’s report of the impression of movement during the ECE. There was also left middle and superior orbital frontal gyri activity, regions often associated with action monitoring. The results suggest that the ECE reported here represents an unusual type of kinesthetic imagery.
Terhune, D.B. (2009). The incidence and determinants of visual phenomenology during out-of-body experiences. Cortex, 45, 236-242.
The visual content of out-of-body experiences (OBEs) has received little attention but a number of theories of OBEs include implicit predictions regarding the determinants of this phenomenological feature. Hypnagogic imagery and unusual sleep experiences, weak synaesthesia and preference for employing object and spatial visual imagic cognitive styles were psychometrically measured along with the incidence of self-reported OBEs and the absence or presence of visual content therein, in a sample of individuals drawn from the general population. Seventy percent of individuals who had experienced an OBE reported that the experience included some form of visual content. These individuals exhibited greater scores on the measures of preference for object visual imagic cognition and weak synaesthesia than those who reported an absence of visual content during their OBE. Subsequent analysis revealed that the measure of weak synaesthesia was the stronger discriminator of the two cohorts. The results are discussed within the context of the synaesthetic model of visual phenomenology during OBEs. This account proposes that visual content appears during these experiences through a process of cognitive dedifferentiation in which visual hallucinations are derived from available non-visual sensory cues and that such dedifferentiation is made possible through an underlying characteristic hyperconnectivity of cortical structures regulating vestibular and visual representations of the body and those responsible for the rotation of environmental objects. Predictions derived from this account and suggestions for future research are proffered.