Out-of-body experience, heautoscopy, and autoscopic hallucination of neurological origin Implications for neurocognitive mechanisms of corporeal awareness and self-consciousness

Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2005 Dec 1;50(1):184-99. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2005.05.008. Epub 2005 Jul 12.


Autoscopic phenomena (AP) are rare illusory visual experiences during which the subject has the impression of seeing a second own body in extrapersonal space. AP consist of out-of-body experience (OBE), autoscopic hallucination (AH), and heautoscopy (HAS). The present article reviews and statistically analyzes phenomenological, functional, and anatomical variables in AP of neurological origin (n = 41 patients) that have been described over the last 100 years. This was carried out in order to further our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of AP, much as previous research into the neural bases of body part illusions has demystified these latter phenomena. Several variables could be extracted, which distinguish between or are comparable for the three AP providing testable hypotheses for subsequent research. Importantly, we believe that the scientific demystification of AP may be useful for the investigation of the cognitive functions and brain regions that mediate processing of the corporeal awareness and self consciousness under normal conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Body Image*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Psychophysiology