The out-of-body experience: disturbed self-processing at the temporo-parietal junction
Folk psychology postulates a spatial unity of self and body, a "real me" that resides in one's body and is the subject of experience. The spatial unity of self and body has been challenged by various philosophical considerations but also by several phenomena, perhaps most notoriously the "out-of-body experience" (OBE) during which one's visuo-spatial perspective and one's self are experienced to have departed from their habitual position within one's body. Here the authors marshal evidence from neurology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroimaging that suggests that OBEs are related to a failure to integrate multisensory information from one's own body at the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). It is argued that this multisensory disintegration at the TPJ leads to the disruption of several phenomenological and cognitive aspects of self-processing, causing illusory reduplication, illusory self-location, illusory perspective, and illusory agency that are experienced as an OBE.