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Susan Blackmore QED 2016 - The New Science of Out-of-Body Experiences with English subtitles  

your hands together to susan black box

[Music]

this is really scary firstly I can't see

any of you so maybe there's nobody there

secondly everyone's been really funny

and amazing today and I'm not very funny

and all I'm going to do really is tell

you the story of my life which is a bit

self-indulgent but I hope you'll see the

purpose of why little digression I don't

really want to talk about near-death

experiences but I keep getting dragged

into them

I'm just finished writing a new book

about out-of-body experiences and I've

read a lot of these things here some of

them are truly horrendously nauseating

proof of heaven by Evan Alexander anyone

read it do it's a real educational

experience he went to heaven he knows

it's really a neurosurgeon so he knows

everything so he's right about

everything people don't seem to think

that don't seem to realize the

difference between being a doctor or

surgeon and being scientists the

training is totally different the things

you need to know a totally different if

he were a really good neurosurgeon that

wouldn't mean that he was really

critical thinker necessarily turns out

he's not a really good neurosurgeon four

times he's had his surgical privileges

taken away one once areas that he needed

the money and couldn't keep a job any

longer perhaps I shouldn't spread

tittle-tattle but that stuff's all

online but if you don't want to worry

about that one how about heaven is for

real little boy sweet story little boy

goes to heaven comes back angels don't

have wings you know and the gates are

not pearly but there are gates and so on

and so on

sadly another one of these the boy who

came back from heaven awful story

because there was a car accident and he

became paraplegic and wrote this book

and then he retracted it and said

actually I just made it up which you can

understand lying in the hospital um you

know and there's offer and the stories

of this kind going around

I suppose one of the when I say

nauseating I actually felt quite

physically illiac reading one of these

book

by American pastor in which what you get

in heaven is what you deserved

send a missionary whose name was Pearl

who had spent her life converting people

to the joy of Jesus going round the

world where people didn't know about

Jesus and converting them lived in a

pearl house in Heaven's and the most

beautiful house on the best Street not

my idea of heaven so this is the kind of

thing and these books make millions and

one of them is said the first one I

showed you said to be 57 weeks in the

New York Times bestseller list

we skeptics are don't have well I don't

have millions and millions of people

buying my book saying oh no it isn't

heaven and you aren't going there now

there's a kind of skepticism that I

don't totally appreciate I get the

skeptics victory is great is good fun

but this is the kind of skepticism that

gets a bad name really that although

there isn't much evidence to support

souls and spirits and astral bodies and

so on it all comes from people who claim

to have been experienced being out of

their bodies when they may have been out

of their minds know and that's really

the point that's been a lot of what I've

done over decades is not that kind of

skepticism and so to tell you the story

is to go back to 1970 there is me that's

what my mum wanted me to look like

that's what when she wasn't looking I

look like and I was I went up to Oxford

in 1970 in the October how long ago is

her it's 46 years ago and it was

fantastic I was having up to brilliant

time at last you know I was really

exciting things I was learning I was

going to 9 o'clock lectures and then

staying up till 3:00 4:00 in the morning

playing Monopoly or smoking dope and

doing all kinds of fun things running

the psychical Research Society

for no better reason than that after

freshers fair I signed up for all this

stuff you know

and one morning this guy turned on

knocked on my door in college and said

he was the only remaining member of the

psychical Research Society from the year

before and would I like to start it up

again and run it with him and he was

really really sexy had long brown hair

like this and was so cool and I said

yeah yeah of course yes so I was running

psychic search Society and we had Ouija

board sessions frequently we had the

mediums coming and psychics and you know

whatever that's how I got to you know

trained as a witch and sit with medium

circles and do table tipping and all

these wonderful things and learn to read

tarot cards and scry and all that and

one night we have this Ouija board thing

and you know I haven't had enough sleep

really sleep-deprived you're sitting

there for three or four hours with the

spirits spelling out words with a glass

on the table all that stuff in the house

went up to a friend's room as I promised

to do asked his accession finished and

smokes that really rather little both

because this had a drag of this stuff

and it just seemed to him to be so on

the edge of hallucinating as I don't

know more and I'm sat there on the floor

cross-leg listening to music anyone like

to guess what the music was Grateful

Dead very good guess any other guesses

oh you are totally brilliant you

skeptics I don't know which of those two

it was but it was definitely either

Grateful Dead or Pink Floyd so there I

was let's say it was Dark Side of the

Moon or something huh anyway so I'm

going I'm sitting there on the floor

there the others are sitting on chairs

and I'm going to answer down Munich and

I start going down this tunnel and it's

a tunnel of leaves like it was the noise

in my ears any of you have had sleep

paralysis might have had this noise and

various other odd experiences the kind

of to me it was like horses hooves but

it was kind of gender anthem sort of

noise you know and it was being dragged

along this tunnel of like a road with

with autumn leaves all around it you

know towards it's light

and suddenly Vicky says to me Johnson

coffee and I couldn't answer my mouth

wouldn't work and I sat there and she's

moving then don't want to beignet and

went off to make the coffee and my

friend Kevin while she was gone and soon

where are you okay I wasn't going to say

I'm in a tunnel though I don't know

where it is and I tried really hard to

work out where I was and I went felt

myself kind of floating and drifting and

trying to remember Vicky's room and

suddenly ping was a really sudden thing

it became clear and I could look down

and see the three of us Kevin to me that

in the room and bequite down the

corridor making the coffee I'm on the

ceiling unless I said that I could see

the mouse going you know I'm on the

ceiling

well that's me down out of speaking is a

really really really weird thing now I

think if Kevin hadn't been there he

started off with his question but

secondly he kept on asking me questions

I didn't have time to what happens to

most people is they go well that's too

weird in the back you've got plenty of

mechanisms in your brain to make sure

you know where you really are

but with Kevin going or what can you

sing what astral projection all have you

got to fill the court or can you go

anywhere else

well you know on and on I was off I went

out through the roof which is weird

because you kind of feel this weird

sensation of going through the roof and

then I go out and I could look down on

all of Oxford see all the you know the

houses and the colleges and what have

you and a little bit of my brain was

working and when you've got to look

really carefully to see whether it's

true when you get back so I looked at

the gutters and the roofs and the

chimneys and the down pipes and whatever

I could see from above and then Kevin

said well can you go any further and I

got this silver cord coming out through

the roof joining on to my tummy and

going down there and I yeah yeah an

offline so I've got another body like

this and I'm flying he totally amazing

completely realistically vivid and real

more real than anything I've ever seen

in my life before so off I go I won't

bore you with all the store

is where I went because they're quite

boring and the whole thing lasted about

two and a half hours which is

exceptional by obe standards but on the

other hand I think that was because of

all the encouragement that I had to do

it what I will tell you about some of

the later phases so I went off to New

York and came back I went off across

France and I looked at all these people

down there went to the Mediterranean

gradually gradually I discovered that if

I wanted an arm I could make another arm

I began to realize I was what in what

the astral projection people would call

the thought created world I can make

different things happen and then I

realized well I don't need hands at all

I went down to the sea and I was just a

sort of flat thing on the sea and then

the waves were going like this and it

was really uncomfortable so I wanted to

float get up the cliff and then I

thought well you don't have to climb the

cliff you can just fly and you know all

this kind of stuff and at some point I

thought I really better make sure I can

get back

so where's Oxford you know and all this

lovely silver cord going I'll follow

that so I followed the cord back went

back found it was very weird when I got

back the body down there didn't have a

head anymore it was a jagged neck and it

was weird and I went away again and did

all those other things but when I

eventually tried to come back because I

was getting tired I thought right you've

got to get inside that body and take it

with you wherever you go not true you

have to take your body with you wherever

you go this seemed like a very heavy and

tedious thing to have to do but that's

what I thought I had to do so I tried to

get inside and I went in through the

neck and I got smaller and smaller and

smaller and smaller and then I got

really terrified cause if you really

small and how am I going to take this

body with me and I need to be up there

where the eyes are and you know all that

so I try to get bigger to try to get to

the right size so I got bigger and

bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger

and bigger and just went on getting

bigger and took in the whole of the sky

the hold of ground the earth the moon

the Stars the planets everything

until the whole distinction between self

and other disappeared in other words it

became a classic mystical experience in

which it seemed that everything was

interconnected with everything else mind

and matter were not separate they were

non dual all the same and there wasn't

any me and therefore nothing about me

mattered at all so here I am Telling

this egocentric story about myself but

the culmination of which was seeing the

unimportance of self and the unity of

all things how do you get back from

there right

somewhere in this unity of all things is

oh one more thing to say kevin said well

there must be something else and I was

thinking in as much as I was thinking at

all because in that state there's not

much thought if any but him asking kept

me trying to answer he said there must

be something more isn't that and I kind

of glimpse just kind of glimpse that

there was something more there was some

kind of I don't know awareness being I

don't know something but I really then

had to get back certainly a good half

hour of telling myself trying to get

thoughts in order again

trying to say you've got to take the

body with you've got to get behind the

eyes and look through the eyes and when

I open my eyes I would ping and

everything made no sense anymore and I

began to you know I took a long time but

I did eventually get back Kevin told me

when you've been asked or predicting

especially for a long time like that

it's very dangerous if you go to sleep

because your astral body will get lost

in the thought forms of the astral world

so you must have heard asleep so he kept

me awake for the rest of the night and

eventually then the next day I did go to

sleep and the following day I went to a

tutorial and my tutor Jane melamine

excellent neuropharmacology tutor said

to me Oh Susan get more will you just

pay attention you look as if you're

flexing all over the room

and then has it out of the whole story

into students today all these drugs

murder that they done ruin and I was in

trouble thereafter anyway the

consequence of this as you might well

imagine was and I will

forgive myself for this if that's

required I'll understand it I jumped to

all that what I now think wrong

conclusions I jump to the conclusions

that my soul or spirit or astral body

had left the physical therefore all my

scientists at sea or all the scientists

you know that were teaching me stuff

were wrong because there's more in your

you know world than is in your

philosophy and all that stuff you know

and that therefore great logic I had in

those days therefore all the following

are true telepathy clairvoyance

precognition psychokinesis ghosts

poltergeists life after death I don't

know everything so you know your magic

enthusiastic nineteen year old I and I

prove them all wrong I'm going to devote

my life to parapsychology my parents

were furious my tutors were furious but

never mind I didn't care I carried on

and I was determined to become a

parapsychologist and as some of you know

I did become a parapsychologist and I

did work on telepathy my PhD was on

telepathy and I did all kinds of stuff

and gradually gradually gradually never

found any phenomena and well I never

found any paranormal phenomena or

anything that really still stands in my

mind is even possibly paranormal

phenomena what I did find is that I was

not alone that lots and lots of people

have out-of-body experiences something

happens and I wanted to explain it so

I've kind of jumped on a few years from

what I now think of as a red herring

into parapsychology back then when I was

doing my PhD say the late 70s there were

very very few people working on

out-of-body experiences but there were

few and several of us kind of agreed

more or less on a definition and it's

very important because people like the

kind of skeptics who go know now they're

just out of their mind or and they're

just hallucinating or earns just a dream

on all the things that people say

they're forgetting the definition that

has been used for a long time this is my

own version but there are other very

similar versions and

variance in which someone seems to

perceive the world from a location

outside their body so if you have such

an experience where you seem to be up

there and there's your body down there

in the bed or you're in the lecture

theater and you seem to be out there

having a cup of coffee or whatever it

may be you have by definition had an

out-of-body experience this is important

because it doesn't prejudge the question

of whether anything's left the body or

not you can't even begin to do decent

science until you have an a definition

that doesn't include the answer so if

you look online for definitions you'll

find a particularly versatile projection

but also sometimes for obs that it's you

know an experience where your soul

leaves your body or something so I'm not

using that definition this is the

definition that I'm using and that

enables us to distinguish it from

various other closely related phenomena

the word or Tosca P means seeing oneself

so in a sense it is or Tosca P but in

pathological cases or with various types

of brain damage or mountainous mental

illness or Tosca P is the experience

like the doppelganger where you see

another version of yourself over there

so if I was experiencing ABA here's a

physical body I would seem to be over

there whereas in otoscope II I would

seem to be here and there's a

non-existent double over there vo Tosca

P is where people don't know where they

can be kind of in both or switching or

they're both at once or neither and so

you can see that the difference is there

now

having sorted that much we can ask some

basic questions and these kind of

questions will answer pretty well back

in the 1980s how common are they and so

on and the question I suppose is can

anyone have an OBE the answer roughly

speaking is yes but later research I

mean what was found out very early was

that things like age sex educational

level religious affiliation those kinds

of things don't make any difference to

whether you have a nobody

or not most of them happened when people

are relaxing or lying down but not

necessarily some happen when people are

walking about doing normal things early

research showed very strong correlations

and I did some of this myself in the

early eighties very strong correlations

with paranormal beliefs having lucid

dreams having sleep paralysis various

other sleep phenomena so there's

something going on there which wasn't

really known then but one of the

important questions that came out there

was people always asking am I going mad

what is it I think most of my life most

of my research I would say been

completely useless I'm not I'm not

interested in never have been in things

being useful sorry then maybe that's bad

I'm grateful to live in the world where

I'm allowed to just do research cough it

interests me but one small use is that

so many people have said to me early on

now that all these things are known

about it's not quite the same but back

in those days to have a name for

something that they've experienced to

know that lots of other people have it

really helps people to stop thinking

they're going mad which is a common

response from people so quite a bit of

research was done on that to American

psychiatrists did a huge study thousands

of people of over years and using the

profile of adaptation to life and

various other questionnaires and their

conclusion as you can see here was that

his or her psychological health is

generally excellent ranking with the

healthiest groups in the population

American population of course yes you

can make up your own joke I did a study

I was lucky enough to have a colleague

in Bristol where I was then who was

working with a group of schizophrenic

patients in hospital and he said yeah

yeah after the question about

out-of-body experiences and so we asked

there were 71 of these schizophrenic

being treated for their problems and

then as a control group we use patients

in a

accident or din the hospital and it

looked at first that 42% of the

schizophrenic had out-of-body

experiences and only 13% of the control

group but when you actually look at what

they described I mean here's one from

somebody who was diagnosed schizophrenic

he had thought interference and hearing

voices which is a classic symptom of

schizophrenia and he was on the stage in

the middle of a play at Her Majesty's

Theatre in barrow-in-furness it didn't

affect my performance in any way at all

I went on acting while my center of

consciousness I floated about 15 feet

above the sea now is in I'm not making

this up it was a very exhilarating

experience in an absolute mystery to me

or a lot and lots of not schizophrenic

people have that kind of experience the

self-consciousness of being on the stage

can can precipitate it but here's one

also about being on a stage from another

of the skits of Annex during my last

breakdown I was transported through

music to Titan Saturn's moon where the

gods are directing the theater in which

the fate of the earth was to be

determined

I traveled without a body as an idea or

thought or some intangible aspect of

consciousness now just think about the

definition it doesn't fit the definition

it's an easy definition he didn't seem

to see the world from a location outside

his body I mean we can't really say that

you know God erected theater is the

world and it's not difficult in my

experience I've read the hundreds of

these things and talked to a lot of

people it's not difficult to

discriminate between the kind of totally

weird somewhere else experiences and a

classic out-of-body experience it's the

world you think it's the ordinary world

you think you're seeing things for real

even if they look weird you're convinced

it it's quite different but it turns out

that there is some indication perhaps

it's too strong to say that it's an OBE

prone personality which was what one

phrase often used but we now know that

positive schizotypy which the schizotypy

is a kind of visit like the idea of

spectrum from very steady you know to

schizophrenic and

and people vary along that but there are

different variables within schizotypy

and the positives gets party which is

correlated with creativity and

imaginative 'no sand so on does

correlate with having out-of-body

experiences so does absorption

that's the capacity to get absorbed in a

book or film or something like that

oddly I am about zero on absorption I

just I can't watch films or I just I

just get somewhere else so I don't know

how that fits but anyway fantasy furnace

somatoform disorder lead associations

are all correlates so does

self-consciousness and interestingly

susceptibility to pattern glare that's

very recent discovery and I've got a

couple of students doing some research

on this now have a look at this hands up

if that does weird things to you and you

don't like it I need to come and see

who's got their hands on I can't see a

thing

glass only about four of you oh no more

okay about ten I mean to me I really

don't want to look at that it's

absolutely buzzing around the place now

when I discovered this I'm kind of

leaping ahead but this is what's so

exciting to me I've been writing this

book about Obie's is discovering all

these things when I discovered this it

rang a huge bail because person glare

susceptibility is related to cortical

hyperexcitability so if your cortex if

your brains cortex is hyper excitable in

other words noise is hitting it or

strange patterns hitting it make it

overexcited that can be tested by this

passenger test now back in 93 I wrote a

book about near-death experiences the

skeptic skeptics the skeptics are

skeptical of a skeptics I don't know if

we have a word for them doing but all

the people who hated my book then and

still do they always say or sue black

nor says that near-death experiences are

all because of our nazia lack of oxygen

what I never said that what I said was a

not serious just one of many many things

that cause cortical disinhibition so the

brain is kept kind of steady by a

balance between excitatory neurons and

inhibitory neurons

and it's running in inhibition is really

critical all the time

this balance is kept if you have

something that's causes distant ambition

knocks out the inhibitory cells faster

than the excitatory ones which lack of

oxygen does which LSD numbers in some

parts of the brain does certain other

drugs that produce similar experiences

do so although some other traumatic

events of the brain and film and so to

some extent of sleep deprivation then

you get this excitability and that's why

I argued then that causes the tunnels

the lights the other body experiences

the whole work so to discover that there

might be a test here that would show

cortical excitability was was really

interesting to me and I'm going to try

and pursue that but let me get back to

the main issue which is does something

leave the body if something leaves the

body in an out-of-body experience and

surely people will be able to see actual

real things at a distance and hear

things at a distance and maybe even

effects things of a distance with the

astral I'm thinking of the Flying

Spaghetti Monster anti they are noodly

appendages they're astral appendages so

it is there well there has been quite a

lot of experiments which I don't want to

go into it with in parapsychology is

very very mixed results

mostly absolutely nothing and then the

occasional typical of parapsychology and

occasion the result you think oh wow

maybe that's it but mostly they just

everything comes out of chance but but

you would believe if you if you go

online or if you go in a bookshop

mind/body/spirit bookshop that cost you

you see something leaves the body have a

look at some of these I mean the blue

powder what you supposed to do with the

blue powder any suggestions stick it out

you know fine yeah and that will send

you could could be and you know made

easy you can go to the future and the

past

you can meet anybody you want to meet

you can go anywhere you like in the

world

and there are books now that they've

been competing and I've been watching

them it used to be

astral projection in 30 days then we got

ones astral projection in two weeks the

latest I saw was astral projection in

five minutes

self-published book on on Amazon I

tempted to write in a one minute but

anyway so this idea that something

really leaves the body it doesn't make

sense you know what would it be and how

would it work one of my absolute

favorite objections came a long long

time ago from this was in the Journal of

the Society for psychical research back

in the 70s William Rustin who was a very

well known vision researcher in

Cambridge he wrote what is this oh OVI

that can encode the visual scene exactly

as does the real eye with its hundred

million photoreceptors and its million

signaling optic nerves this is the

critical bit is this floating replica is

to see it must catch light and hence it

cannot be transparent and so it must be

visible to people in the vicinity

in fact floating eyes were not observed

nor would they be expected for they

exist only in fantasy it's a knock down

killer argument I mean if I was really

up there working at those roofs there

would be light being absorbed in order

to see the rooms and therefore if

somebody had been also floating up there

or bird flying past or something you

know something should be seen in fact

the next morning what happened when I

went out and looked at the buildings

different yes I had imagined seeing seem

to see ancient you know iron gutters on

on this Oxford College and and chimneys

then there weren't any chimneys and they

were white plastic gutters so I was

pretty far out wrong but of course the

astral projection people will come back

and say yeah that's stupid of course

because you're not traveling in the

physical world you're traveling in the

astral world which is a near replica but

not quite and that way you can get

around anything so and of course you

don't want to go there because it's a

dangerous place unless you've got the

right books

had the right training but I did try

some test myself I met a guy who run a

magazine long before the internet this

was you know out-of-body weekly or

something and to take him to meet me at

my house and he said I go out of my body

nearly every night and I lived in

somewhere far away and Brighton I think

and he said I can come and visit your

house if you put some objects in your

kitchen I will come and see them out of

my body and I'll be able to tell you

what they are so this idea led me to for

probably about two years I started out

every week putting a randomly chosen

word a randomly chosen number and a

randomly chosen small object I had a box

of 20 objects and I you know we didn't

have one random number tables in those

days I mean you know calculators even so

I had to use log tables but I randomised

it but then I got bored when nothing

happened and it was every month and then

it got you know but anyway I did this

experiment putting these things on the

tiles of my kitchen wall and he said to

me if you make me an apple crumble it'll

tempt me to come so I made lots of Apple

crumbles and so what did the smell

around you know Astral crumble

but he never made it and every time I

met someone who said they had

out-of-body experiences frequently then

I told them that there were these things

in my kitchen and asked them to come

only two people ever wrote to me and

said they visited and told me the

numbers that things that they'd seen but

they weren't right this was all part of

my early slow disillusionment because

you know I really thought because it had

been so vivid and so real real seeming

and you know if I kept on and on hoping

but these experiments didn't come up

with it with the goods so we need to

think of something else I was not

prepared to never have been prepared and

most people who have these experiences

are not prepared to go now this kind of

dream don't worry about it that's why I

spent my entire life that's why I say

this is the story of my life because in

a way I spent my entire life trying to

find out yeah I've gone off into memes

and written texts books about

consciousness and everything else but

really deep down it's all about this who

am i what am i why am i here what's the

point of it all you know will I survive

when this body's dead all those things

which have different answers now to what

they had back in those days after that

experience so let me now turn to some of

the success stories rather than the

failures so what about that tunnel now

tunnels I said I'm not going to go off

into near-death experiences but they are

an intrinsic part of many near-death

experiences they are also reasonably

common as mine was just before

out-of-body experiences now here's some

interesting pictures this is one of Ron

Siegel's experiments on LSD and note the

tongue it's a kind of spiral to spiral

tunnel this one there's a light at the

end it's only tiny but you can still see

it's bright at the end and it's got all

these different pictures around the

outside you remember my tunnel it also

had pictures around the outside not in a

sort of television form but autumn trees

it was the autumn it was November the

7th I think I'd probably been out you

know with it cheese it was using stuff

that was in my head anyway a picture

form around the outside of the tunnel

and then the light at the end note if

you read some things they will tell you

that it's tunnel vision it's not tunnel

vision tunnel vision is totally

different tunnel vision is in effect on

the eyes where the the visual field gets

smaller and smaller more you just see

this tiny thing there's nothing that was

just a bit in the middle there's

completely different phenomena

anyway that's a that can be produced

with drugs in that way here's another

picture remarkably similar now this was

when I did a lot of work on alien

abductions at one time and a TV program

for horizon and I met all kinds of

interesting people including David

Howard who has a narcolepsy so he just

without wanting to just falls asleep at

any time in the day which is really

unpleasant but when he when this happens

to him he gets taken by aliens and he

gave me loads of his paintings and he

goes to the planet dirt and was taken

there by this particular man whom he

befriended and I think Moses just one

example the sort of things that I've

come across in my life where they

finally got his medication to work and

he didn't go there anymore and he was so

upset you know really missed it not not

going to this place he was so familiar

with but that's another story the point

is look at the similarity there this is

not a spiral form it's more of a square

form and curves round but it's got that

same kind of picture effect all around

the outside as he heads off into outer

space to planet dirt now why this is

nothing to do with the eye it's nothing

to do with tunnel vision it's actually

to do with the visual cortex and in

particular v1 all the maths has been

done starting in 1982 but a lot more has

been done since as we get to know an

awful lot more about visual cortex and

if you can imagine think about the

mapping between what you're seeing out

there which maps directly onto the back

of the retina and then goes retina

topically up through the optic nerve

lateral geniculate nucleus and so on up

to v1 v1 is mapped differently so

because the columnar organization

all of the cortex the way it turns out

is that what would be rings in the

outside world or on the retina become

straight lines in the cortex what

happens when you get this inhibition is

you get waves of activity spreading

across cortex because of the inter

connecting neurons

what's that going to look like through

the mapping backwards these waves of

spreading activation are going to look

like expanding rings or spirals this

explains what are called the four form

constants at what other mappings are

required but the four form concerts

discovered by climbers kluever in 1940s

which come up again and again again in

in art all over the world from different

you know from thousands of years ago on

pottery and clothing and still today in

many cultures and in lucema tyrannic

jugs and these kinds of experiences you

get spirals tunnels cobwebs

checkerboards and all of these can be

explained by this mapping in the visual

cortex so wonderful and realistic is

that tunnel is it's not a tunnel to the

planet dirt or indeed to the astral

plane but it is pretty well explained

and why this wonderful warm light that

you go into well this is just a simple

simulation I did way long ago in the 80s

Genovese do it properly now this is

pretty good for those days where if you

imagine increasing hyperactivity random

random activity in v1 because of the

fact that loads of cells are devoted

towards the middle of way you're looking

at and very few towards the outside to

the periphery any hyper excitation is

going to look like a bright light in the

middle and the more it gets a little

spread and if you're there in a

situation with no bodily feedback which

is typically typically when OBEs happen

you will get induced motion as the thing

gets bigger you'll feel it being sucked

into it so these things are pretty easy

to explain if you just know not very

much you don't need to know about the

visual system well that's kind of as far

as we got in in the eighties and kind of

nothing was

in the 90s and I went off and did other

things and got obsessed with memes and

then you know was teaching consciousness

and doing other stuff and thought and I

nearly threw away all my parapsychology

books and I'm so glad I didn't because

suddenly everything changed and it

changed when a neurosurgeon in

Switzerland called Olaf Blanke

accidentally stimulated the right

temporoparietal junction of one of his

patients who had subdural electrodes all

over her head to try and find an

epileptic seizure focus and when we hit

that spot with the electrode she had an

out-of-body experience if he did it very

lightly

she got bodily distortions I didn't tell

you all about the bodily distortions I

got at various stages but she got bodily

distortions lengthening shortening not

including getting bigger but that's been

induced by other people as it was who in

my experience and he could control it

with a higher intensity stimulation she

had out-of-body experiences and he could

stop and start it in at will amazing

also looking at brain damage you find

that people who have out-of-body

experiences as part of their pathology

have damage in the TPJ right TPJ whereas

those in our Tosca P have damaged in

other places and various other research

all adds into that so what you've found

the spot that's the astral body out it

was like that with God spot remember

that all that research on nuns and monks

and meditating and stuff found a

particular spot you know and people were

saying always find the god spot and some

people said well that just shows it's

natural isn't it you know meditations of

natural phenomena and spiritual

experiences are you know in the brain

and others to have I haven't got these

quotes here but Melvin Moore said this

is a spot through which God communicates

with our soul so in order to to know

what's important about this spot you

don't need to know what the TPJ is doing

and Wikipedia entries brilliant I mean

let's just go to that if you like that's

where this comes from

it's to do with herself it's to with

constructing yourself and one of the

wonderful things now is that the

philosophy and psychology coming

together to do with a nature herself and

showing just how it is the different

parts of the brain build up the sense of

self and the important thing that's

happening in the right TPJ is the

construction of a body schema that is

you know all the time

and I've been talking God knows I'm in

thinking about just trying to get the

words to come out I've been walking

around I don't even remember but I've

ever had and I haven't fallen over and

I've probably not even gone on the lines

of the streets I've probably been

minding the bears and you know all of

that all these things that you do

require a body schema continuously

updated accurate and able to that you

not fall over all that's happening in

the tbj being linked through to the

prefrontal cortex with more other

aspects of self being linked up with

temporal lobes to do with memory and so

on the construction itself so this

begins to make some kind of sense

doesn't it

also if you do a little task like this

now I'm going to say to you I'm going to

shout out a letter a B C or D and I want

you to shout out left or right according

to which hand has the black bracelet on

the gray hand so are you ready C be a

bee wow you're pretty good those

questions this morning you know about

which films were fake and real I got

every single one wrong outside the sinus

thing or I'm really dim but you lot a

spot on so it turns out that the same

parts of the brain are being used when

you do that task there's all sorts of

arguments going on now people finding

different things I did some early

studies on imagining different

viewpoints that they never mind but this

is an interesting area of research going

on at the moment but I want to take you

now to the last piece of the research oh

dear I've only got nine and a half

minutes left is that does that mean I've

only got that including questions well

nevermind the rubber hand illusion is a

fantastic illusion where discovered done

the late 90s where if you have this

setup you can see in the picture so the

subject puts their hand on the front of

them and the other hand is hidden in

some way and a rubber hand is put there

instead and if you stroke with a pink

brush both of them at once this

extraordinary sensation happens that you

feel that this is that the rubber hand

is yours it seems to be that site

overrules touch

we're very sight animals and we're not

so much touch animals and so maybe this

makes some kind of sense but the rubber

hand illusion is quite weird I've played

around with it quite a lot how could you

do this with a whole body and make

something like an out-of-body experience

well yes even though I've only got eight

and a half minutes left I would like to

explain these two experiments to you

before I stop and I would like some

volunteers please I'd like two

volunteers to come up here and help me

explain this because you really need to

understand this properly oh come on

right okay and what's your name sir

Oh your I can't tell what your name is

in your class okay you're going to be

the subject and Claire you're good you

know just stay back here for a moment

now you're going to stand here I'm very

bossy because I haven't got much time

and you're going to have an amazing

experience that I am a camera all right

I'm the camera I'm two meters behind you

well I can't really get to me okay I'm

the camera two meters behind you now I'm

filming you and I put on your head a

virtual reality stick okay so you are

watching the view of this camera so what

do you see yeah what do you see in front

of you no react shut your eyes imagine

you've got a virtual reality headset on

and it's filming from me the camera I'm

filming your back so what are you seeing

you're seeing your black t-shirt like

your head okay you go and be him that

stand there so turn around the other way

so you're seeing your own back you does

she doesn't look very much like you does

she

but that's what you're saying

okay now the sneaky experimenter comes

along with a stick and goes like this

what are you going to see yes you're

going to see that you're going to see

this striking happening here and in the

same way as with a rubber hand illusion

what happens is you yes you start to

feel that sight and you start to shift

it's called proprioceptive drift and you

start to feel yourself nearer there okay

so they are moving forward now another

method done that's not really an out of

the body experience but it's giving you

a sense of how flexible the sense of

where you are can be now here's another

method and this is why I need volunteers

can I have a chair very quickly anyone

wonder if this is movable oh that's that

one will do oops right now I want you to

sit down in that chair please and I

don't think you're going to have to do

anything in this one Claire oh yes you

are yes you are sorry you are no you're

still their turnout so sorry sorry I'm

panicking by going up 6 minutes and 6

seconds left now this time I'm a camera

again a camera's 2 meters behind so

again you're seeing yourself but this

time something different is going to

happen now I want all of you please to

get your finger in front of your nose

look straight ahead at me and then just

go like this and Stroke your own chest

what do you see you see the finger

coming up and disappearing don't you

okay now what I'm the sneaky

experimenter going to do I'm going to go

like this I'm going to stroke him there

and I'm going to stroke the air in front

of the camera like this and he's not

seeing this what's he seeing in front of

him yeah yeah so I'm sorry I didn't get

the chair for you as well you're seeing

the hands like your thing so what do you

think happens in that case

moving no you work because you're seeing

this thing here and you're feeling or

stroking here yeah you start to go

backwards you start to feel you where

the camera is because that's what you're

seeing there there so thank you very

much I'm sorry to rush your brilliant

performance but thank you very much

thank you so these are just some of the

ways in which people have induced OBE

like sort of experiences they've been

all sorts of marvelous developments

here's one we can put someone an fMRI

scanner and do both those methods at

once with an automatic stroking machine

with a hole in the table underneath and

another one on the top and you can you

can compare the two methods and what

they do you can go at somebody I love

this expression is threatening someone

very slowly with a knife so there's

there's somebody I haven't got you still

I should have kept you I go in a normal

state or when you've got your head thing

on and it's in front of you and people

react much less when they feel they're

somewhere else than where the body's

being threatened with both these methods

body temperature is even lowered and in

their hands and so on when you feel you

out of the body and pain is reduced and

social anxiety is reduced which is very

interesting because people particularly

kids often have out-of-body experiences

to escape from horrible situations from

physical abuse sexual abuse terrifying

things that happen to them they might

have an out-of-body experience and if it

really does reduce pain then then at

least it makes some kind of sense of why

it's used as an escape experience but to

finish with only three minutes and 20

seconds left I think what's really

important now is that at last

instead of out-of-body experiences being

just some kind of weird thing to do with

the paranormal they're actually being

used to understand the self so some of

those things that people have been

saying for centuries about the self

William James and them

all kinds of lists mystics and so on

that the self is not a soul or a spirit

or so on and this is connected to my ven

practice I'm not a Buddhist but I've

practiced them for a long long time

which a lot of it is about dropping the

sense of a separate self and getting

into non non duality all begins to make

sense

so to my great delight the story of my

life from that experience in 1972 now is

one of something that was purely weird

last out said to be little you mind has

become something that is not only

accepted that it happens but that it

happens because of the brain our brains

of the way they are and it's beginning

to tell us something about the big

questions like Who am I why am I here

and what is it all about thank you

[Applause]

not flapping because we've got 2 minutes

and 2 seconds you want to do 1 to 2

question I'd never do once do please you

have to physically walk up to the mic

behind people have you also tried adding

delays and so forth to see if you can

add the temporal aspect yes I haven't

done any of those experiments they've

been done by the German teams and the

Norwegian teams or Swedish I'm sorry

but yes they have done delays and that

stops the effect some people find it so

powerful with even a bit of a delay it

will still happen but mostly not it has

to be synchronous but there's a lot to

tell there and there's quite a lot of

research have you heard of Arthur Ash's

Wimbledon experience when he played in

the final and he had a kind of an

experience that sounds somewhat similar

he was as himself in terms of the way he

plays this idea flow you come across

that oh yes it's very at the out of

out-of-body experience is very different

from flow I mean the may be a rant flow

is some new higher extent highs idea

that when you get really into particular

artists but also mountain climbers and

other people who are so concentrated on

what they're doing that they seem to

lose the sense of self and get into what

many describe is I just need to be

flowing along with my painting or my

music or mountain climbing it comes out

of concentration now that we've got all

this stuff about self and the default

mode Network and all these other brain

networks switching over and stuff flow

makes sense but it is very different

from the out-of-body experience it tends

to be a very intensely in the body only

there's not me it's all body it's all

doing whereas the outer body experience

is a kind of dissociation I'm sure

they're related in some way but they are

different I think we've got one more

question we can have if somebody has 102

people as I answer them very quickly can

we have both it's just not just a sleep

like a dream state but when you're awake

it's not as simple as that then that

sense you can drink flowing around like

I have but can you actually be you know

like you have athletic where they have

them where they're just you know you can

stay stationary you know if I'm waking

three

say there is some evidence that it's

related to REM intrusion now

REM you know the state in which most

dreams happen have various

characteristics which can sometimes be

seen in out-of-body experiences and

sleep paralysis has a lot in common with

saying noises the tunnels and so on so

there is some connection there but there

have been studies of people having

out-of-body experiences in the lab with

EEG done a long time ago and they were

either awake or in a kind of borderline

stage one they're not in rem and that

seems to persist although getting

someone to have an out-of-body

experience in the scanner has not been

done and is pretty difficult I'm sure it

will be done when scanners get less

unpleasant to go in and so on I think

the simple answer is they're definitely

not being so different from lucid dreams

so a lucid dream when you know it's a

dream same people tend to have them but

that happens definitely in rem because

people can signal with eye movements and

say now I'm lucid and that's happening

in rem towards the end of a REM period

usually early in the morning so quite a

lot is known about the physiology there

were definite connections but there it's

not a dream state now and the final one

I'm allowed being possibly related I get

migraine a lot of the things that you

described like this one's night kind of

stuff yes or familiar is there a

relationship between migraine and what

you'll be talking about are you think

there probably is I most of the surveys

have not asked about migraine I get

migraines too they are not officially

diagnosed as migraines but the only

medicine that will stop them is called

Migron if so like kind of thing that's a

clue and I'm so sensitive to those

pattern glare things and I'm sense of

some people this morning have ruffled

the plastic bags we got our stuff in and

it just goes through my head like that

you know so I I mean those things are

definitely related to me grain I can

think of one survey that asked about

headaches and that was that people who

had overuse had more it's not something

we know very much about I'm going to get

into this more with this pattern glare

stuff and find out so I hope so I hope

even those questions show you somebody

in the panel this morning asked are

there any phenomena that are not

explained I know what they meant but but

my answer to that is what this lecture

is about here we have something that

just seemed weird now we're really

really beginning to explain it

but every bit of explanation we have

opens up more questions and I think it

will go on doing so for a very long time

so I'm really quite excited at this old

age I can still carry on we're trying to

understand something that happened 46

years ago thank you there's a black wall

Asian gun

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