Out-of-body experiences are product of a confused mind

London: Out-of-body experience? You are just confused, say researchers.

Throughout history people have described how they have floated from their bodies and looked back at themselves, often when close to death. The accounts have been so vivid that they are often cited as proof of existence of the soul or Heaven.

Now, a team at the University of Geneva has dispelled this myth by fooling people into thinking that they inhabited the body of a virtual human – the researchers artificially created an out-of-body experience using computers and cameras.

According to them, the feeling of detachment occurs when the brain becomes confused by conflict between the senses- and is not proof of any "spiritual dimension" to existence, `The Daily Telegraph` reported.

Prof Olaf Blanke, who led the team, said they had "immersed" volunteers into the body of an avatar- a computer generated version of themselves. Volunteers were asked to wear virtual reality goggles and then stand in front of a camera.

The subjects saw the cameras view of their back on screens in the goggles, computer enhanced to create a 3D virtual version or avatar. When their back was stroked with a pen so was the virtual avatar in front of them, making them think that the virtual body was in fact their own.