Hacking Out of Body Experiences?

In this fascinating Radiolab podcast, we hear the stories of people who have either lost contact with part of their senses, “feel” things that aren’t there, such as a phantom limb, or have a wire loose in their proprioceptive capacities. Proprioception is the ability to know where your body and limbs are, even with your eyes closed. It’s such a basic capacity that most people can’t imagine what it would be like to live without it, and indeed when your proprioception goes out the window, very strange things happen.

The final story is about pilots who experience out of body visions at very high speeds, and poses some very interesting questions about what our brains are capable of. Complete memories, vivid scenes that appear tangible, and strangest of all, the experience of sitting out on the wing of a plane and “watching” yourself fly the aircraft - all take place in the pilots’ minds. 

Preliminary forms of brain hacking are already going on in the military, and as more and more research is being done, it appears that soon we won’t need contact lenses to display augmented reality - we’ll just communicate directly with the brain through wireless waves. As we listened to these incredible stories, the possibilities for hacking brain visuals kept washing over us. We can’t wait to get started.

Podcast description from Radiolab: OK. Maybe you’re in your desk chair. You’re in your office. You’re in New York, or Detroit, or Timbuktu. You’re on planet Earth. But where are you, really? This hour, Radiolab tries to find out.

How does your brain keep track of your body? We examine the bond between brain and body, and look at what happens when it breaks. First, author and neurologist Oliver Sacks tries to find himself using magnets. Then, a century-old mystery: why do many amputees still feel their missing limbs? We speak with a neuroscientist who solved the problem with an optical illusion. Up next, the story of a butcher who suddenly lost his entire sense of touch. And we hear from pilots who lose consciousness and suffer out-of-body experiences while flying fighter jets.