Instrumental Investigation of OBE

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Instrumental Investigation of OBE. S.Siccardi. Definition of OBE. Out of Body Experience (OBE) = people seem to be awake, and feel that their “self”, or centre of experience, is located outside the physical body Both in clinical and normal subjects (e.g. Blackmore's survey 1982)
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Instrumental Investigation of OBES.SiccardiDefinition of OBE
  • Out of Body Experience (OBE) = people seem to be awake, and feel that their “self”, or centre of experience, is located outside the physical body
  • Both in clinical and normal subjects (e.g. Blackmore's survey 1982)
  • A subjective state
  • In shamanism and magic OBEs are related to exceptional tasks, so we ask:
  • Can an OBE also be an objective state?
  • In this case is it PSI conductive?
  • Previous research
  • Tart (1967, 1968, 1969):
  • 2 gifted subjects
  • Physiological measurements – about 20 experiments in several sessions
  • Subjects tried to get information about a remote target (5 digits number)
  • Morris et al. (1978):
  • 1 gifted subject
  • Physiological measurements
  • Tried to detect the remote “presence” of the subject (animals’ behaviour, enviromental measures)
  • A problem: to replicate OBEs at will, to control duration, intensity, etc.
  • The research programDescribe the EEG patterns that are favourable to subjective OBEsThe current stepBuild a Biofeedback device to learn to maintain themObtain more subjective OBEsLook for objective OBEsPrevious findings about EEG during OBEs
  • Tart, Morris:
  • “Alphoid” waves: 1-2 Hz lower than subject’s normal alpha (about 9-13 Hz in general)
  • Theta waves (4 to 8 Hz) abundance or high amplitude
  • A bordeline condition between sleep and wakefulness
  • McCreery and Claridge (1996):
  • Association / disassociation between cerebral hemispheres
  • Favourable conditions for an OBE occurrence, or symptoms that an OBE is occurring at a specific moment?
  • Our experiments
  • Spring 2006 – Spring 2007
  • EEG, heart rate and skin conductance
  • Difficulties in producing OBEs in the laboratory setting
  • A dozen of data recordings, three short OBEs of subject A, none of subject I
  • Frequent occurrences of “vibrations” – a preliminary stage for OBE as described by Mr. Monroe (studied by Tart)
  • Synchronisation EEG – subjective state:
  • Mr. A has OBEs in wakefulness , so he signals interesting moments by coughing
  • Mr I passes to OBEs from dreams, so synchronisation is a problem
  • Subjects and main sessionsSpectra
  • 17 electrodes of the standard 10-20 system
  • spectrum of 1 minute that the subject defined “interesting” for vibrations
  • alpha, alphoid and theta activity
  • Variation in Time of Characteristic Frequencies - 1
  • We analyse electrode F4
  • a spectrum for each minute of the experiment
  • an OBE was reported at the end of the period
  • interesting wavelengths increase
  • Variation in Time of Characteristic Frequencies – 1b Similar behaviour has been found in other locations (we have analyzed F3, C3, C4, T5, T6)Variation in Time of Characteristic Frequencies - 2
  • We analyse electrode F4
  • a spectrum for each minute of the experiment
  • an OBE was reported at the very beginning of the period
  • the time scale is reversed
  • variation in time is not clear
  • Variation in Time of Characteristic Frequencies – 2bSimilar behaviour has been found in other locations (we have analyzed F3, C3, C4, T3, T4)Comparing OBEs to hypnagogic states
  • We tried to compare our data with some studies of the hypnagogic states
  • Some basic results are:
  • Theta power increases expecially in F4 C4 P4 O2
  • Alfa decreases expecially in F4 P4 T6 O2
  • Beta decreases in P4 O2
  • Alfa decrease and theta increase last longer in P4 and O2 than in the frontal locations ("the posterior regions go to sleep last")
  • The most important changes are in the frequency ranges 3-4 Hz in C3 C4 and 9-10 Hz in O1 O2
  • We applied a band analysis to group of electrodes, but did not find definite patterns
  • A reason could be that in our experiments, subjects are staying between wakefulness and sleep, instead of falling asleep
  • Data analysis: Wackermann’s global description
  • He tackled the problem of the assessment of the “macro-states” of the brain, taking into account the topography of multichannel EEG
  • He defined 3 descriptors:
  • S: measurement of the global field strength (in mV)
  • F: measurement of global frequency of field changes (Hz)
  • W: measurement of spacial complexity (dimensionless)
  • A segment of multichannel EEG (a few to 1 sec) is compressed to only 3 quantities, representing the spatio-temporal dynamics of the brain
  • In this way he could distinguish wakefulness from sleep, and some of the sleep stages
  • We tried to apply the same analysis to distinguish OBE from other brain states
  • Wackermann’s descriptors: definition and exampleDaytime wakingN=number of measurementsDt=sampling step=1/fK=number of electrodesIf l1...lK are the eigenvalues of the matrix:andW is defined by:Sleep (the “sleeping shell”)Two OBEs and a control situation 1Two OBEs and 5 other sessionsMcCreery & Claridge experiments
  • 20 OBErs and 20 controls under conditions of sensory limitation and physical relaxation
  • F3, F4 EEG recording + EDA
  • Different EEG medians behaviour for the two groups (we could not replicate this result)
  • Interesting results for coherence between the hemispheres
  • We have not been able to replicate these findings.(McCreery C., Claridge G., Person. Individ. Diff., 21, p.753 (1996)OBE and PSI effects detections
  • We used targets, like small objects, pictures or tarot cards, that the subject should see.
  • This tests were completely informal, with little control for sensory leakage
  • We have had no results
  • All the formal experiments have been conducted in the dark.
  • Some of them have been videotaped using a “night vision” TV camera.
  • Nothing exceptional has been noted
  • Biofeedback – some preliminary tests
  • A target frequency band, e.g. 6 to 8 Hz
  • The spectrum is computed every 2 seconds.
  • 1 channel is used for biofeedback, two or more are recorded
  • Target can be expressed as
  • a prescribed minimum percentage of the whole spectrum power. “Whole” here means frequency from 2 to 32 Hz.
  • The ability of increasing the power in the desired band
  • A short noise signals to the subject that he is achieving his target
  • Biofeedback - exampleExperiments using the Monroe Institute CDs
  • The Monroe Institute’s CDs “Hemi-sync support for Journeys Out Of the Body”
  • Hemi-sync (TM) principle: sounds of 2 different frequencies to the left and right ear
  • The CD set assists self-training and should be used for a while
  • We just tried if listening to one of the CDs could change the EEG behaviour
  • 10 minutes relaxing + 10 minutes CD listening, 2 subjects (a non OBEr and a novice OBEr)
  • Another test: a non OBEr 3 minutes relaxing + 12 minutes CD listening
  • Only once did we get an increase in one of the interesting bands
  • Conclusions
  • Methodology:
  • Euristyc approach: the main problem is to replicate the phenomena
  • Environmental and device implementation details have a greater impact on subjects’ performance
  • A lot of effort and time is requested from subjects, so motivation is an issue
  • Western science requires that experimenters should be completely detached from subjects, but...
  • ...we feel that a direct experience of OBE could help greatly
  • In order to carry out the research, we must be more and more committed both with the phenomenon and with our subjects.
  • Can this be considered scientifically correct?
  • Please send comments and criticism to: info@progettopsi.itExtra picturesSpectra - 1
  • 17 electrodes of the standard 10-20 system
  • spectrum of 1 minute in which the subject reported an OBE
  • alpha, alphoid and theta activity
  • Data Analysis: artefact rejection1. Rejecting by eyeOriginal data with a heartbeat artefact2. The Independent Component Analysis provided by EEGLABCleaned data, after removing the first componentVariation in Time of Characteristic Frequencies - 3
  • We analyse electrode F4
  • a spectrum for each minute of the experiment
  • no OBE reported in this experiment
  • low power at interesting wavelengths
  • Alfa band in several locations – a sleep episode during an experiment?Some bands – OBE at the end?Wackermann plots (an OBE occurred)
  • OBE at the beginning of the experiment
  • colour represents time: light grey=early, dark grey=late
  • Two OBEs and a control situation 2Two OBEs and a control situation 3Two OBEs and 5 other session – intersting and non interesting periods cumulated?An example from an experiment with Monroe’s CDsCoherence functionAn example of the variation of the coherence function with time in a biofeedback experiment.?Coherence and linear measures of synchronizationCross correlation functionThe sample cross spectrum is the Fourier transform of the cross correlation functionThe coherence function
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