Out-of-body experiences

and multisensory brain mechanisms of self-consciousness and visual consciousness

Media:  Talk   

November 3, 2015

Byens Lys

Olaf Blanke

Founding director of the Center for Neuroprosthetics, Bertarelli Foundation Chair in Cognitive Neuroprosthetics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL). He also directs the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at EPFL and is Professor of Neurology at the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital of Geneva. Homepage


The Sleeptherapists aren't afraid to take the weight of the world on their shoulders, because The Sleeptherapists are here for those who cannot fall asleep and for those who need to wake up. But The Sleeptherapists aren't just a blanket you can pull over your head. The Sleeptherapists don’t believe in a life after death but in death in life. The Sleeptherapists don't believe in any God but in the Divine Dream witch one night will be dreamt by us all, prior to the eternal sleep. The Sleeptherapists believe in all and everything, in nobody and just in themselves, at one time and forever and never no more because The Sleeptherapists know just how much has been slept in the classroom. Homepage

Is it possible to have an experience in which our own body seems to be placed in another location than our physical body? Can such experiences be triggered in a laboratory? Does that mean that our self-consciousness can be tricked or that consciousness can be somewhere outside the body? Can we experience having an arm after the arm being amputated?

Olaf Blanke is considered by many as the scientist who has demonstrated that out-of-body experiences have a well defined scientific basis. Interestingly, he showed that conflicting visual-sensory input in a virtual reality set-up could affect the spatial unity between the self and the body making the participants experience a virtual body. How common are these experiences?

Blanke, for the first time in Denmark, will present studies that investigate bodily self-consciousness by exposing subjects to ambiguous multisensory information about the location and appearance of their own body. Such experiments, together with advance brain scanners, can pinpoint the brain locations which reflect bodily self-consciousness. Together with data acquired from neurological patients, he will argue that these brain mechanisms are not only crucial for bodily self-consciousness but also for perceptual and visual consciousness.

One out of 10 people on average claim to have had an out-of-body experience. Can one learn to trigger such experiences? Are there benefits of this to the treatment of neurological problems like pain in a phantom arm?

After Olaf Blanke's lecture on out-of-body experiences, the Søvnterapeuterne (sleep therapists) will again transform theory into action under their favourite conditions: equal parts of science and tasty cocktails. Here, the human acid-trip Mikkel Bajer in cahoots with emotion-pathologist Charlie Andersen recreate some of their self-effacing shortcuts to higher self-awareness of life's fine knife edge with the help of the death-violin and trance-guitar. So keep hanging between life and death after the lecture and enjoy tones from the grey zone between dream and reality.

Entrance to the event is free. No registration is necessary. Doors open at 19:00.

The talk: