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Scientists have found a way to make you have an out-of-body experience

And they can teleport you. Which is cool.

Image: Fox

SCIENTISTS IN SWEDEN have manufactured an out-of-body experience.

In a new study from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, neuroscientists created an out-of-body illusion in participants placed inside a brain scanner.

From there, they were able to “teleport” participants to other areas in the room, showing that perception of being inside our bodies can be separated from the rest of the brain’s function.

While most people assume that the brain simply knows that it is inside a body, that is not the case. It is an enormously complex task that requires continuous integration of information from our different senses in order to maintain an accurate sense of where the body is located with respect to the external world.


Studies in rats have shown that specific regions of the brain contain GPS-like ‘place cells’ that signal the rat’s position in the room – a discovery that was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

In the Karolinska study, published in the Current Biology journal, scientists created the illusion in 15 volunteers.

In the experiment, the participants wore head-mounted displays and viewed themselves and the brain scanner from another part of the room.

From the new perspective, the participant sees the body of a stranger in the foreground while their physical body is visible in the background, protruding from the brain scanner.

To elicit the illusion, the scientist touches the participant’s body with an object in synchrony with identical touches being delivered to the stranger’s body, in full view of the participant.

“In a matter of seconds, the brain merges the sensation of touch and visual input from the new perspective, resulting in the illusion of owning the stranger’s body and being located in that body’s position in the room, outside the participant’s physical body,”says Arvid Guterstam, lead author of the present study.

In the most important part of the study, the scientists used the out-of-body illusion to ‘teleport’ the participants between different places in the scanner room.

“This finding is particularly interesting because it indicates that place cells are not only involved in navigation and memory encoding, but are also important for generating the conscious experience of one’s body in space,” says principal investigator Henrik Ehrsson, professor at the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet.

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