|Seat of the Soul?
The reports are as old as storytelling: a person in great physical or emotional distress or in spiritual ecstasy leaves the body. The patient in the ER floats above his body, seeing and hearing everything as the doctors work to revive him. A woman lying in bed at three in the morning suddenly find herself detached from her corporeal self, and wanders through the window and out into the nighttime meadow. The shaman leaves the flesh and enters the spirit world to do battle with forces threatening the souls of the people.
An epilepctic in Geneva undergoes a procedure to locate the source of her seizures. Electrodes are implanted in her brain, and then stimulated one by one for a few seconds at a time, while she remains conscious to report on her experience. The doctors stimulate an electrode buried in the angular gyrus in the right cortex. The patient reports that she had an out-of-body experience.
The doctors try a bunch of other electrodes. Each time they return to the angular gyrus she reports the same thing, and only then.
Clearly more research is called for here, as this is essentially a sample of one. Furthermore, epilectics sometimes experience an out-of-body sensation before the onset of a seizure. But if this finding is confirmed, does that mean that the out-of-body experience is a purely neurological anomaly?
Dr. Blanke is hopeful that many different experts will be able to work together in using this unexpected information from his patient. He says there's even some value in what's often viewed as the "paranormal."
"Lots of people try to explain something away which is for many people, an amazing experience that has transformed their lives. I hope we can add some precise neuroscience and try to collaborate with people in many fields," said Blanke.
The debate on mind/body/spirit is far from over. I look for it to keep getting more and more interesting.
Read more in this CNN article.