Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Using virtual reality, scientists in Switzerland and Sweden tricked the human brain into believing that the body was at a different location, mimicking an out-of-body experience. The technique could aid in the development of virtual-reality games in which the players actually feel as though they are inside the game. The results were published today in the journal Science.

Often interpreted as a spiritual experience, people have reported out-of-body sensations linked with epilepsy, drug use, and traumatic events like surgery or car accidents. The new experiments support the idea that these experiences are likely induced by a mismatch in sensory information somewhere in the brain.

An article in the Guardian explains the experiment:

In [one] experiment participants wore goggles containing a video screen for each eye. Each screen was fed images from a separate camera behind the participant and, because the two images were combined by the brain into a single image, they saw a 3D image of their own back.

Dr. Ehrsson then moved a plastic rod towards a location just below the cameras while the participant’s real chest was simultaneously touched in the corresponding position. The participants reported feeling that they were located back where the cameras had been placed, watching a body that belonged to someone else.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Biomedicine, video games, virtual reality

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »