About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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Brain Waves

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January 19, 2005

Is God in Your Brain? Neurotheology

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Posted by Zack Lynch

People everywhere say that they have had out-of-body experiences. (Follow this link to read people's stories).

In this week's Journal of Neuroscience, Blanke et al. attempt to link the phenomenon known as an out-of-body experience (OBE) with specific brain activity. During an OBE, one senses that the "self" departs the body so that the body and the world can be viewed from "outside." Healthy volunteers imagined an OBE, mentally shifting their visual perspective and body position. Evoked potential mapping revealed selective activation at the temporoparietal junction. It seems that out of the body is not necessarily out of the brain."

So maybe the phrase "In Neurons We Trust" isn't that far off the mark. Special kudos to the research team: Olaf Blanke, Christine Mohr, Christoph M. Michel, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Peter Brugger, Margitta Seeck, Theodor Landis, and Gregor Thut

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety


1. Carole Smith on January 19, 2005 5:23 PM writes...

Oh dear.
If there is such a thing as an out of body experience - and I'm sure there is, if it is an experience so private, so extraordinary, and so precious as to merit the description - then it sure isn't possible, or of interest - to get 'healthy volunteers' to simulate it for the scanners to gawp at.

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2. Jacques Groenen on January 20, 2005 3:55 AM writes...

Interesting, brainresearchers who have never meditated and never became conscious during delta and epsilon (below 0,5 hz) brainwaves and by going even deeper could contact the zero-mindfield and travel beyond the speed of light to any place in the universe and to other dimensions, pretend to know something about the brain.
The areas which are lightening up are only the contact area which is needed to come back to into your brain and body. I have recordings of people stopping totally their brainwaves while talking to me. Again the same old story, dna researchers pretend to know something of dna while they are negelecting the 95% 'junk'dna. Cosmologist pretend to know something about the cosmos while they are missing more than 90% of the matter in the universe and call it dark matter, only illustrating the darkness of their minds.
Pseudo-science can become very boring indeed.

Best regards, Jacques

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3. coolmel on January 20, 2005 11:39 PM writes...

first of all i have great respect on the expertise of neuroscientists who are looking for a physical correlates of the OOBE phenomenon. (note that even transpersonal psychologists have difficulty explaining this phenomenon. it's possible that OOBE is another higher psychic functioning rather than the literal going out of the body.)

i would certainly like to hear the neurological explanation for supposedly brain-dead people yet still reported to have OOBE (or NDE: near-death experiences). not just "fantasy" OBEs but those verifiable OBEs in the "physical realm."

but the keywords here "physical correlates." problems arise once these "physical correlates" are offered as the "only" and be-all explanation. reducing everything to "exteriors" in expense of the "interiors."

it's a worthwhile endeavor. but worthwhile as it is, it has to tackle the hard-problem of consciousness. and then the fun really starts...

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