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Ottawa student claiming voluntary OBEs becomes subject of study

A psychology student at the University of Ottawa says she is capable of leaving her body at will. She told researchers that she had been having out of body experiences (OBEs) since she was a child when she was bored trying to sleep.

This rendering shows the spirit leaving the body during an out-of-body experience.
Public Use Photo

OBEs are not new but generally take a great deal of concentration and years of meditation practice before a person can accomplish it. Many people who have had near death experiences also claim to have left their body for a period of time and seeing their body, which appears to be sleeping.

In this woman’s case, she believed what she was doing was quite normal. Since this woman can go out of body voluntarily, (which actually sounds more like induced astral projection) researchers at the university’s School of psychology decided to utilize her skill in experiments aimed at scanning her brain to determine any changes.

The results of the research were documented in a report entitled Voluntary out-of-body experience: an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) study, which was published in the journal Frontiers of Human Neuroscience in February 2014. The scientists noted that this phenomenon might be more common than we think because others might not have reported this ability either.

The scientific researchers wrote, “The ability might be present in infancy but is lost without regular practice. This would be reminiscent of the discovery and eventual study of synesthesia that some researchers now hypothesized is more prevalent in young people or can be developed.”

The researchers discovered that there were changes in brain function primarily “left-sided and involved the left supplementary motor area, and supramarginal and posterior superior temoral gyri….” As well, “the cerebellum also showed activation that is consistent with the participant’s report of the impression of movement” despite the fact that her body was at rest.

They concluded that the results suggest “an unusual type of kesthetic imagery” and that “motor imagery corresponds to the cognitive version of motor actions without actual motor movements.” In other words, the brain reacted as if the person was actually moving, which they termed an ECE (extra corporeal experience). However, the brain activity during an ECE was significantly reduced compared to when the woman was simply at rest.

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