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OBE Artificially Induced In Woman With Epilepsy

  1. Jan 23, 2004 #1
    This link was at the side of the article on telepathy Ivan just started a thread about. It confirms that the OBE is a neurological phenomenon, a simple partial seizure, that can be "produced in the lab", so to speak.

    Electrodes trigger out-of-body experience: Stimulating brain region elicits illusion often attributed to the paranormal.

    The doctors interviewed go out of their way to say this doesn't mean there isn't also a "spiritual" OBE, but that, in my opinion, is them evading hate mail and death threats from true believers.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2004 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    I have a few problems with this as a complete explanation. First, I believe the following link is highly significant to the discussion. As far as I know, this point remains unanswered:

    http://www.datadiwan.de/SciMedNet/library/articlesN75+/N76Parnia_nde.htm [Broken]

    Next, the sensation of floating doesn’t account for the experiences claimed by regular practitioners of OBEs.

    The last sentence is interesting though...this "looking down" being a key element of many claims.

    Here we see a clear division between laboratory induced OBEs, and the self induced OBEs, and ER NDEs for that matter.

    I guess this is the core of my objection: We can stimulate many different sensations that can also be real. This in no way determines what is real and what is not, it only means that these sensations can be artificially reproduced. Why should we choose this particular situation as the exception to the rule?
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  4. Jan 24, 2004 #3
    The mistake made by this writer is to suppose that little or no EEG reading means little or no higher brain function.

    Anyone who has read the book (or seen the film) Awakenings will be familiar with the fact that people whose EEG is giving readings of 0 cortical functions can, in fact be completely aware of everything going on around them. The people Oliver Sacks "awakened" with l-dopa reported they always knew everything that was going on in their apparent stupor during which their EEGs read virtually flat.

    The EEG is a limited tool:
    That's from:

    Neuromontréal EEG
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2004
  5. Jan 24, 2004 #4
    Is it not reasonable to consider that there's more than one way to open portals to other dimensions. No doubt, once we are amenable to the possibility that the so called "Spiritual" world and the Material world may be one and the same, many things will appear as reasonable. :)

  6. Jan 24, 2004 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    Does a partial seizure produce a detectable level of brain activity?

    How does one produce partial seizures on demand; just by thinking?

    Also, the reference of "virtually flat" is not the same as flat.

    I would expect that in order to determine if brainwaves can be measured during full arrest, the need for precise measurements was anticipated. I would also expect a rebuttal to Parnia's paper sooner or later. Maybe Adrenaline could help with this...

    I would expect that Parnia would know how to approach this problem with the proper rigor. On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that no one has ever thought of this before now.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2004
  7. Jan 24, 2004 #6
    I'm not clear about what you're saying here.
    What's the clear division?
    Its also not clear what you're saying here. Perhaps an example of a real sensation and a stimulated version of it would help.
    It seems to me that when the sences are stimulated by actual outside stimuli, the stimuli are real, and the sensation is real. When the sensation is the result of faulty processing of some kind and is triggered without an appropriate outside stimulus, then it is not real.
    There is absolutely no way to gather any evidence of a "real" OBE since the alleged separated "spiritual" part of the person is undetectable by anyone else or by any device. The only evidence for[/] it are the unverifiable reports of those who have experienced it.

    The electrically induced one is clearly a neurological illusion.
    It makes much more sence to conclude that the OBE is always an illusion that has no "real" counterpart, just as the deja vu is an illusion with no factual counterpart, and the sensation that you, or some part of your body has grown to twice its normal size (that some people with simple partial seizures sometimes experience) has no factual counterpart.
  8. Jan 24, 2004 #7
    According to this study, only 21% of simple partial seizures can be detected with surface electrodes:
    Address:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=88319291 [Broken]
    I believe we went into this in some depth in the last OBE thread. Remember? Yes, they can be triggered by thinking alone.
    True. Sacks' patients were not totally flat because their autonomic functions were intact as were their motor functions to a degree: sit them up in a chair and they'd stay in that position.
    Surface EEGs are very limited. They can only pick up signals that make it to the surface of the brain. The woman in the story was being probed with a depth electrode: a hair thin wire that can both pick up and deliver voltage at any depth it is physically inserted to. They use these in Europe (not so much in the US that I know of) to specifically locate the seizure focus in people being prepared for epilepsy surgery.

    It was through the use of these depth electrodes that it was discovered how much seizure activity is going in in most patients that is never picked up at the surface.

    Sometimes they send voltage back down into the brain to see if they can stimulate the kind of seizure the patient normally has. If they can, then they feel they have found the focus, or are quite close to it. This is what they were doing when they apparently accidently triggered this OBE in this woman, and took the opportunity to repeat it a few times.

    So, a NDE researcher would have to be able to insert depth electrodes into a person's brain to see if they were truly brain dead or not. That just isn't going to happen. This aspect will not be able to be settled untill they come up with a reliable and non-invasive way to detect the brain's electrical activity all the way to the deepest depths.
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  9. Jan 24, 2004 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    This article selects a small element of the experience and portrays it as the complete experience.

    This is not simple to induce. Again, how does one think them self into a seizure?

    Any of the auditory or visual hallucinations produced by Persinger or similar, or a sense of touch caused by direct stimulation of the brain.

    The obvious meaning being that this is no test of reality. It is a test of how we can fiddle with the brain to create sensations and hallucinations. This is really no different than a drug induced hallucination in this respect. This does not void the potential reality of that experienced in a “genuine” OBE...if they exist.

    This is an assumption. There was a time that we couldn't detect beta radiation either.

    This may depend on the proper interpretation of Parnia's paper.

    It only does if we pick and choose what we wish to consider. This is a very sterile and weak example of an OBE. This doesn't even begin to address the breadth and depth of the experiences reported. I know this same objection is voiced by NDE'rs when confronted with similar claims or laboratory results. It seems to me that we have to fully consider the full range of experiences if we are to account for the entire phenomenon.
  10. Jan 24, 2004 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    Ok, our posts are all out of sink so I will shut up until later.
  11. Jan 24, 2004 #10
    Not from what I've read about them. This struck me as a typical OBE. (They're not claiming NDE, here, with the tunnels and meetings with angels and dead loved ones. Just OBE)
    The doctors remark to the effect "you can't do this yourself" was intended, I think it is clear, to disuade people from hooking their heads up to their car batteries in an attempt to induce an electrically stimulated OBE.
    The latter are to the point. Here we have phenomena that have a real version and an artificially stimulated version: the sence of touch caused by actually touching something, and the sence of touch caused by electrically stimulating the sensory strip of the parietal lobes. One is real, one isn't, the difference is clear.

    How do we assess the reality of something for which there is no demonstrable "real" version, but there is a demonstrable artificial version?
    The important reality to learn from this is that we cannot always trust our sences. Hallucinations happen. If you hear voices talking to you loud and clear but no one else can hear them chances are greatly in favor of it being a hallucination. If you feel like you are near the ceiling looking down on yourself but no one else can see you up there, chances are greatly in favor of it being an hallucination. These can be drug induced, or caused by neurological malfunctions, or psychiatric problems, but they result from the improper workings
    of the most delicate and complicated thing that we are currently aware of in the universe: the human brain. Not everything a person experiences is an authentic perception of reality as it exists outside them. It happens, sometimes, to just about everyone, that the stimulus comes from inside and is erroneously projected onto the outside.
    True, strictly speaking.
    The fact that the alleged floating "spiritual" part cannot be detected by other people is not an assumption. The fact it cannot be detected by any device is also not an assumptiom. Obviously, the latter statement is subject to update as soon as someone invents such a device.
    Don't know what this means.
    I don't find it to be sterile and weak. It sounds, as I said before, to be standard from what I've read, and from what people have told me of their own experiences.
    The thing is, if you cite more elaborate examples of the OBE, I can cite you back more elaborate examples of simple partial seizures. Some people have simple partials that progress from the focus to all four lobes on one side of the brain. They never lose consciousness and just experience the most bewildering succession of bizarre sensory and emotional, and cognitive phenomena. So, the more elaborate OBEs would only suggest to me that the seizure activity is spreading to various locations outside the focus mentioned in that article (the right angular gyrus).
    The NDE is clearly a much more elaborate event. At any rate, I agree that to exclude parts is not the way to account for anything.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2004
  12. Jan 25, 2004 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    Now that we’re in sync, and not out of sink

    I do a lot with sinks and sources…

    OBEs are claimed to include the ability to travel to other places. I have no idea to what extent if any this sort of thing has been tested, as these practices are allegedly a difficult and lengthy process to learn, but I believe there are laboratory test cases where "gurus" of one sort or another have done some interesting things. This often involves the classic OBE state of astral projection. Not saying it's real mind you, but these are the claims.

    His comments are one reason I find it hard to believe that a person can learn to think them self into a seizure...just by relaxing and focusing. He suggests that a particular technique is needed for success. This suggests limits on how easily we might expect the seizures to be induced by other means...such as by relaxing.

    Emphasis mine. You suggest the desired proof as the supporting argument here. The difference is clear as long as OBEs don’t really happen. You argue that OBEs are merely due to partial seizures, and then you use this conclusion to support your position. You tell me, what is a real OBE and how do we tell the difference?

    We don't.


    Yes it assumes that all spiritualists who see dead people are lying. Okay, would I bet a thousand dollars at 1000:1 that this is true, sure. Would I bet everything I own? No.

    Also, you said
    "There is absolutely no way to gather any evidence of a "real" OBE since the alleged separated "spiritual" part of the person is undetectable by anyone else or by any device."

    I was merely saying that there is no way that we know of for now. Are you suggesting that no one should ever consider any evidence that may indicate otherwise; a done deal? I’m just trying to define the limits of our confidence...since it may involve people's immortal souls. [just considering the risk to benefit ratio here].

    We can’t detect entanglement between two particles either; yet it exists nonetheless.

    Some gurus claim to travel the cosmos at will...but I am only citing the claims that go with OBEs, and really I don't tend to side heavily with people who chant, but we do have entire cultures based on the notions of deep spiritual experiences associated with OBE's. For example: Prayerful OBE's, such as at Fatima, and other spiritual states of ecstasy that include OBEs.

    Also consider claims such as from a fire victim who miraculously finds his way through a burning building while being virtually blind. There are many variations on the OBE that often include the claims of credible information used to affect real events.

    I tend to include NDEs as one type of OBE. I think to some extent we really differ over the definitions. I just think its a little early to declare that the soul is proven null and void.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2004
  13. Jan 27, 2004 #12
    It isn't the relaxing, it's the focusing; intense, single minded concentration: deliberate, specific, and sustained.
    This, I think, is what must be fueling your objections: belief or hope there is a soul.
  14. Jan 28, 2004 #13
    The first time I had an OBE, it was because I cut off my breathing by having my head face down. I found myself looking down at my body which was on the bed, and desperately trying to breathe, knowing that if I didn't get back in and wake up I was going to die.
  15. Jan 28, 2004 #14
    Re: Re: OBE Artificially Induced In Woman With Epilepsy

    Makes sence. Anoxia causes seizures. Your instinct to "get back in and wake up" was sound.
  16. Jan 29, 2004 #15
    This was basically my first conscious dream, which was indeed scary because of the circumstances, but when I awoke, after the shock has subsided it felt exciting.

    I'm not saying that I was outside my body, or that we can travel to places in some spiritual form, but from my experience I found that in those few seconds flouting above my body, my surroundings appeared to a certain extent the same, as in light, position of things...

    I've heard of interesting cases where people are able to control their bodies while dreaming. Simply Sleepwalking, except the dreamer has to consciously know where they are, (say on your bed) know their surroundings intimately, so as to walk a certain number of steps to a door way, or know where objects are on a desk.
  17. Jan 29, 2004 #16


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    Look into Sleep Apnea.
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