PET takes a ride on the astral plane

January 22, 2008

PET takes a ride on the astral plane

PET imaging with oxygen-15-labeled water showed specific brain activation related to an out-of-body experience of a 63-year-old patient stimulated with electrodes to suppress tinnitus.

Dr. Dirk de Ridder and colleagues at the University Hospital at Antwerp and the University Hospital Leuven in Belgium reported significantly increased activity at the temporoparietal junction on the right side.

The man's disembodied feeling was accompanied by activity in a cortical region associated with multisensory integration and another region associated with self-perception (NEJM 2007;357:1829-1833).

The patient's perception of disembodiment always involved a location about 50 cm behind his body and off to the left, and without the impression of seeing himself from a distance.