Floating around a room you see a familiar figure below. Then you realise – it’s you! This is a virtual reality simulation of an out-of-body experience. Sensors attached to your body help to build the illusion of sitting in a room staring at yourself in the mirror. Then, with a press of a button, your perspective lifts – now you’re a disembodied observer. Participants in this experience were asked questions about their connection to their virtual selves, but also quizzed about how they felt about death - some were less anxious after the experience. These responses highlight the power of virtual reality in raising awareness to beliefs and thoughts. Similar technology could potentially help in medical situations when awareness is lacking, such as anxiety disorders or phobias including thanatophobia, the fear of death.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.