Out-of-body experiences may feel spiritual—but scientists say they can explain them without reference to the supernatural: conflicting senses create the experience by addling the brain, they say. To explore the idea, researchers attached subjects to virtual-reality goggles that showed them a 3D-enhanced avatar of themselves. At one point, they touched the subjects' backs with a pen and showed the same thing happening to the avatars. The subjects became unsure which was their real self and which the image.
"We created a partial out-of-body experience,” said a scientist, suggesting that it’s a matter of the mind and not the spirit. The researchers also found that if certain sensory parts of the brain weren’t working right, it could result in the out-of-body sensation, the Telegraph reports. “Instead of it being a spiritual thing, it is the brain being confused,” the scientist noted. (Read more out of body stories.)