This week, The Daily Telegraph excitedly reported at 7:00AM GMT 18 Feb 2011 that "Out-of-body experiences are just the product of a confused mind." This was news hot off the press, for the same publication also reported at 12:01AM BST 24 Aug 2007 that "Out-of-body experiences may be nothing more than the brain becoming confused."
One of the experiments reported back in 2007 used virtual reality goggles: "A team led by Bigna Lenggenhager and Pro[f] Olaf Blanke asked people to stand in front of a camera while wearing the goggles. In one experiment, subjects saw the camera’s view of their own back, computer-enhanced to create a three-dimensional 'virtual own body.' When the subjects’ backs were stroked with a highlighter pen, at the same time that they saw their virtual back being stroked they reported that the sensation seemed to be caused by the highlighter on their virtual back, making them feel as if the virtual body was in fact their own."
Reassuringly, in 2011 we discover that "Professor Olaf Blanke [asked volunteers] 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."
Back in 2007, it was claimed that this work "could also have commercial applications...The experience of playing video games could reach a whole new level, but it could go much beyond that. For example, a surgeon could perform remote surgery...other uses could be in treating eating disorders linked with a flawed body image, such as anorexia."
In 2011 we now learn that "the work could have more commercial applications...The technique could be used to make computer games even more exciting or projecting people into robot soldiers or surgeons...They could even be used to treat eating disorders linked with a flawed body image, such as anorexia."
It's truly difficult to keep up with the pace of such research.