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. Jul-Aug 2011;47(7):839-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2010.05.002. Epub 2010 May 21.

Abstract

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 (OBEs: Blanke et al., 2004; Mohr et al., 2006). 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; Bell et al., 2006). 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) (Blanke et al., 2005). 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / physiopathology
  • Hallucinations / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*