Recently a paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine about electrical stimulation of the brain that seemed to induce an out-of-body experience (OBE), a feature found in many NDEs. The new research is gaining media attention but the conclusions cited in the press are questionable.
As was the case with similar research during the past several years that attracted media attention, these induced experiences are a pale imitation of the accounts reported from those who have had spontaneous OBEs, often as part of an NDE. Multiple anecdotal accounts as well as numerous research studies have found that what the NDEr sees and/or hears during the OBE part of an NDE can be accurate, and not an illusion as in some of these induced experiments. NDErs often claim to see their real body, and sometimes while they are clinically dead, in a coma, or otherwise unconscious, observe other people in the vicinity engaged in activities that are independently verified. Many out-of-body experiences, especially those associated with NDEs when the sensory organs and the brain are not functioning, remain medically inexplicable.
The most detailed critique available on these artificially induced OBEs remains a paper now posted on the IANDS website by Drs. Janice Holden, Jeffrey Long and Jason MacLurg titled "Out-of-Body Experiences: All in the Brain?" This paper, which can be read by clicking here, was originally published in the Journal of Near-Death Studies (IANDS members at the Professional membership level receive subscriptions to the Journal) and discusses the first such induced OBE study in 2002 by a group of researchers in Switzerland.
If you want more information about OBEs, we recommend you view the DVD of Dr. Janice Holden's presentation at the 2006 IANDS conference at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston titled "Veridical Perception in NDEs." It is one of the best summaries of developments in this field that reviews decades of research into OBEs. You can order the DVD by clicking here (IANDS members receive a 33% discount).