Out-of-body experiences: false climbs in a supine position?

Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are illusions, where people experience themselves as being located outside their physical body and often flying or floating at an elevated location. Here, we propose that the flying and floating in OBEs can be explained as the result of a Bayesian inference, where ambiguous bottom-up signals from the otholiths in a supine position are integrated with a top-down prior for the upright position, which is not appropriate for the current supine position. We also measure these ecologically valid priors for the upright position as the empirical probabilities in natural head movements. Our results suggest a simple interpretation of some aspects of OBEs in terms of a mislead sensory inference and suggests new ways of experimentally inducing OBE-like experiences by manipulating sensory signals and top-down prior information.

Published in:
2008 Ieee International Joint Conference On Neural Networks, Vols 1-8, 3704-3710
Presented at:
International Joint Conference on Neural Networks, Hong Kong, PEOPLES R CHINA, Jun 01-08, 2008
Ieee Service Center, 445 Hoes Lane, Po Box 1331, Piscataway, Nj 08855-1331 Usa

 Record created 2010-11-30, last modified 2018-03-17

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