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Cloettapreis_2012_Nr_40

17 OBEs are not bizarre departures from normal human experience and more than a mere curiosity. They are, instead, selective disturbances of bodily self-consciousness and their study (and of related phenomena) has lead to insights into the bodily foundations of self-consciousness. Moreover, they have impacted experimental research in cognitive neuroscience. OBEs are striking phenomena because they challenge our everyday ex- perience of the spatial unity of self and body: they challenge our experi- ence of a «real me» that «resides» in my body and is the subject or «I» of experience and thought8 . OBEs are not rare, have been reported since time immemorial, and have been estimated to occur in about 5% of the general population8 . During an OBE, the subject has the subjective feeling of being awake and expe- riences the «self,» or center of awareness, as being located outside the physical body, at a somewhat elevated level (i.e. abnormal self-location). It is from this elevated extrapersonal location that the patient’s body and the world are perceived (i.e. abnormal first-person perspective)7-9 . Dur- ing an OBE most subjects experience to see their own body as lying on the ground or in bed, and the experience tends to be described as vivid and realistic. Thus, self-identification with a body, that is the sensation of owning a body, is experienced at the ­elevated, disembodied location and not at the location of the physical body (i.e. abnormal self-ident­ ification). What causes this disunity be­tween self and body and the ­changes in self-identification, self-location, and our everyday body-­ centered first-person perspective? Neurology of out-of-body experiences OBEs of neurological origin have been reported in patients suffering from many different etiologies7-9 , such as migraine 10 , epilepsy7,8,11 , but also ­after focal electrical cortical stimulation12,13 , general anesthesia14 , typhoid fever15 , and spinal cord damage16 . OBEs due to focal brain damage have allowed further insights and have linked OBEs with the right and left temporo-parietal junction (TPJ)8,17,18 , the precuneus13 , and fronto-tempo- ral cortex.A recent lesion analysis in the to date largest sample of ­patients with OBEs due to focal brain damage, however, revealed a well-localized

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