I figured they, and others, could benefit from an explanation.
A third interesting theory has a more physiological focus. Few consistent findings on correlations between OBEs or NDEs and physiological factors have been found, but those that have been discovered implicate the temporal lobe in such experiences (see below). Silvia Bünning and Olaf Blanke envision OBEs as "culturally invariant neuropsychological phenomena or deviant self models" resulting from abnormal brain activity centered around the temporo-parietal junction (Bünning and Blanke 332). This unusual neural activity is surmised to produce a dual failure of multisensory integration that leads to an OBE. Conflicting proprioceptive, tactile, and visual information, coupled with a conflict between the vestibular feeling of where the body is and the visual representation of the body's location, yields an OBE:
For example, P(|) is relatively high,but P(|) would be very low.
Whichever model turns out to be correct, a preponderance of the evidence suggests that that model will be a psychophysiological one. For if OBEs and NDEs truly represent the detachment of a person's soul from his body, why would people with certain characteristics have a greater ability to leave the body? If some mechanism can be activated to achieve such a detachment, why would that mechanism have any connection to purely psychological traits? The "projection theory" does not make much sense of the extensive psychological data collected on OBErs and NDErs. But those data clearly makes sense on a psychophysiological understanding of such experiences.
(1) In other NDEs that, on the survivalist interpretation, is assumed to take place in a soul or double that separated from the normal physical body long ago. The Fenwicks report an NDE during a hernia operation where a bodily sensation is felt well into the experience:
That gives us:Now it is time to evaluate how well this program does.
V. Krishnan noted that it is difficult to reconcile the fact that OBErs "nearly always" find themselves looking down on the body from above with the hypothesis that something literally leaves the body during spontaneous OBEs and NDEs:
From that I extracted twotest sets of corrections.
(2) The Fenwicks provide us with another case where bodily sensations are incorporated into an NDE. While on a Royal Navy ship, a sailor leaning against some chains was accidentally electrocuted when testing the power supply by plugging in a badly connected portable fan. After hearing himself screaming, seeing flashes of electricity 'licking around' his body, and hearing a roar, the flashes disappeared and everything went silent. While his body was motionless on the ship's deck, he reported:
Let's think about how wecould do better.
I seemed to be floating in a beautiful velvet-like darkness, feeling completely at peace away from the frightening flashes. I seemed to be going through a tunnel angled slightly downwards when suddenly I found myself standing in a field of beautiful yellow corn.... I felt comfortable and appeared to be wearing a blue gown.
Suddenly, on the distant horizon I saw something that appeared to be a train, in fact a blue train. At first.... I hadn't noticed gentle music in the background plus the quiet rumble of the blue train.
For some unexplained reason I appeared to get closer to the train, which stopped in front of where I was standing. I could see people in the carriages beckoning to me and telling me to climb aboard....
Then, again almost as if by magic, I was in the train compartment with the faceless passengers, who, I noticed, seemed to be dressed in the same way as I was....
Then it began to happen. I felt a pressure on my shoulders and a strange sensation as I began to rise. It didn't make any sense—I felt I was being pushed down yet I was going up....
The speed of my ascent became faster and I felt a feeling of anger mixed with regret. I didn't want to go back. Suddenly I came to and was lying face down on the deck of the frigate passageway. My colleague was pushing on my shoulder blades in the old Holger-Nielson method of resuscitation (Fenwick and Fenwick 154-55).
(I've developed the ideas some more in a for a bookand in a .)
Bünning and Blanke classify OBEs as one of three different types of autoscopic phenomena—experiences where one typically sees one's own body. (Though, as already noted, OBErs do occasionally appear to see from a vantage point near the ceiling seeing their bodies below.) In autoscopy, a subject feels like he is in his own body and has an internal vantage point, but sees an apparitional mirror image of himself (a double or doppelgänger) in the external environment. In OBEs, a subject feels like he is outside of his body, seeing an image of his normal body and its surroundings from an external vantage point. In heautoscopy, the subject has difficulty localizing where 'he' is, sometimes alternating between an 'internal' and 'external' vantage point, sometimes experiencing both vantage points simultaneously (Bünning and Blanke 333). Whereas in autoscopy the double is typically just an image, in heautoscopy "the double is often experienced as a three-dimensional person" (333). Thus, one feels 'inside of the body' in autoscopy, 'outside of the body' in OBEs, and simultaneously 'inside' and 'out'—or alternating between them—in heautoscopy (333). The extent to which these experiences are related remains to be seen.