Scientists researching out-of-body experiences have discovered ways to trigger the phenomenon in volunteers, the BBC reports. Researchers using virtual reality goggles and body images were able to trick participants into thinking they had moved several feet away from their bodies. The results, published in the journal Science, offer intriguing neurological clues to a phenomenon reported by people near death or in drug-induced states.
"The clue to these sometimes life-changing experiences lies in disrupting our normal illusion of being a self behind our eyes, replacing it with a new viewpoint," said a researcher. The study could have practical applications, such as helping surgeons to operate long distance by controlling a robotic virtual self. (Read more virtual reality stories.)