A new study has revealed that out of body experiences are nothing but tricks of a confused mind.
The study was able to 'fool' the brains of volunteers into temporarily believing they occupied a 3D computer-generated character.
"Instead of it being a spiritual thing, it is the brain being confused," the Daily Mail quoted Swiss neuroscientist Professor Olaf Blanke, as saying.
The researchers immersed volunteers in a computer-generated landscape through a virtual reality visor. The participants could see a 3D room occupied by a human-looking figure - known as an avatar - which mimicked their posture and movements.
In one experiment, when the volunteer was stroked on the arm with a baton while a computer-generated stick stroked the arm of the avatar, the volunteer believed they were 'occupying' the avatar - rather than their own body.
"They started thinking that the avatar was their own body. We created a partial out of body experience. We were able to disassociate touch and vision and make people think their body was two metres in front of them," said Blanke.
In another series of experiments, the volunteers watched an avatar while the scientists squeezed their index finger with a tool - but did not inflict any pain on the avatar.
"We asked them to say when they felt pain. If we did it in the conditions where people identify with the avatar, they felt less pain," said Blanke.
The findings could be used to develop medical treatments.