Aug 23, 2007

have your own out-of-body experience

Daniel Wegner's The Illusion of Conscious Will describes subjects in an experiment who, by a little trickery with mirrors, became convinced that someone else's arm was their own--and described how it felt to "control" the other hand.

Now, in a similar vein, scientists have induced out-of-body experiences with a clever setup:
To trick his subjects, Ehrsson gave had them wear a head-mounted display that showed them footage of themselves filmed from behind, while preventing them from seeing anything else. He then used a plastic rod to prod the subject in the chest and simultaneously held a second rod in front of the camera behind them, to make it seem that the illusory "person" viewed from behind was being prodded in the chest too.

Subjects physically felt themselves being prodded, but also had the weird sensation that it was their alter ego in the film footage being prodded. "It gives you a very strong sensation you're sitting somewhere else," Ehrsson said at a press conference held in London.
The video above shows a similar experiment performed by Olaf Blanke.

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