Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism, said: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step". Over the past years, I have taken many such steps, carrying out novel experimental research in the field of Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs), starting many laboratory experiments to understand OBE neurophysiology and demystify OBE phenomenology with one aim in mind: develop techniques steaming from this understanding to allow the better induction of OBEs by all through an evidence-based approach, but equally to allow better experimental protocols to be designed by researchers studying OBEs – setting the grounds for improved-designed experiments based on the enhanced scientific understanding coming from such experiments – which have been mostly made with gifted Out-of-Body Experiencers (OBErs).
But if the journey begins with one step, perseverance and determination pave the way to reach the thousandth mile. It has been a long learning journey, and it still is, giving me a shrewd perspective on the politics of research laboratories – it is not always about science – and the difficulties of getting funding for such type of research – although a tool essential to humanity, laboratory research research is dictated by money resources which are scarce and fought for between integrants of a Lab. Nonetheless, despite the many sacrifices required, the abnegation, such a journey has given me incredible insights into the nature of non-ordinary OBE states beyond what is currently known while providing me with outstanding human experiences testing and exchanging with incredible OBErs with unique predispositions, talents and character. And out of that, the satisfaction, the certainty that I'm on my way, doing precisely what I'm meant to do. And despite the many more miles that are needed to be walked, I wanted to provide an overview of what has been done, providing insights into things to come, knowing that my venture into this fascinating realm of consciousness seeks to not only uncover the scientific realities behind OBEs but to invite you, the experiencers, to participate in groundbreaking research to pave the way for future discoveries.
Neurophysiological Research of the Vibrational State:
The journey started with the laboratory study of the Vibrational State (VS), a phenomenon where vibrations of an electrical nature are reported in the body, and often described with very specific patterns. This study seemed necessary considering the prevalence of such perceptions during OBE-onset. Indeed, based on a current unpublished study, different surveys have suggested that the VS occurs between 9 % and 60 % of the cases .
Although vibrations are poorly defined and understood by experiencers (e.g., vibrations are not the VS), studying the VS was certainly important as it is still not considered by current OBE researchers. As a matter of fact, I know of no peer-reviewed study that has even referred to it when examining out-of-body experimentations to this date (base date 24/09/23). Having experienced it spontaneously through OBEs and having subsequently learned to induce it, it seems the perfect phenomenon to study . Without a doubt, the VS appeared easier to reproduce in the Lab, considering experiencers suggested they could induce it at will  – an ability generally rare for OBEs (see my article on OBEs induced at will). As such, at the time, I published an extensive analysis of the complexities involved in studying such a state and how it should be done, proposing a model to explain its occurrence in different sleep stages (Montenegro, 2020). Studying neurophysiology was certainly the way to demonstrate the VS could not be considered a hallucination, as still suggested by the scientific community (Picture 1).
The neuroscientific results of this pilot study on the neurophysiological correlates of the induction of the VS, as a state, although still not published, held interesting results which were presented as preliminary results on different occasions, indicating – considering the consistent results – that these cannot be any sorts of hallucinations. We are currently working in partnership with the Institute of Noetic Science (IONS) to further look at source localization as an important aspect of this study . More so, the induction of such a state expresses an incredible neurophysiology with the recording on a 256-EEG channel, in a subsequent VS study (Picture 2), showing increased Gamma Waves going up to 250 Hz .
To put this preliminary finding into its relevant context, it should be appreciated that Gamma Waves (generally above 25-30 Hz, depending on definitions) are usually found during conscious perception and are involved in many other states, such as attention, working memory, and information processing, among many others. Experience of insights, for example, are recorded at 40 Hz. However, such a high level of Gamma Waves is rare, although it can be seen in individuals with epilepsy . Even long-term meditators in neuroscience research rarely exhibit gamma waves above 100 Hz. Considering abnormalities in gamma wave activity can be associated with a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions and are crucial in cognitive processing and even mindfulness, one may only think of the potential for the true induction of such a state if more people would achieve it  (See more information about it, here).
Neurophysiological Correlates on willingly induced OBEs:
Another important step that was carried towards understanding OBEs was a pilot study on the wilful induction of the OBEs with a talented and rare type of experiencer (Picture 3). The study in partnership with the Swiss Institute of Noetic Sciences (INSNOE) is aimed at providing neuroscientific evidence that such a state, when voluntarily induced by individuals with expertise and ability, could bear differentiated neurophysiological results, specifically considering no such studies have been done since the sixties with such gifted subjects (Tart, 1967, 1968). Truly, it seemed to me at the time, as an experiencer, reading all the peer-reviewed research on OBEs, that most of the studies were done without experienced individuals, experts in their domain. In contrast, meditation studies were mostly ascribed to studying experienced meditators with 15 years or more and hours and hours of practice. I believe this study would be paramount in further demonstrating that such types of OBEs have a specific neurophysiological signature and that OBEs are not related to any brain pathologies, as they are suggested to be, but indeed, are natural phenomena one can learn to achieve. And as much as with meditation, a condition that only requires repeated practice, some self-criticism and absolutely no preconceived belief to be experienced. We are currently processing the combined EEG and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), processing the data through novel techniques using precise 3-D images to locate the electrodes with precision and achieve better source localization.
Phenomenological research on induced OBEs:
Throughout the last few years, I have carried out different pilots using different technologies to test one of the most prevalent theories of OBEs, suggesting that OBEs are related to brain dysfunction or paroxysms of the temporoparietal junction (TPJ). Truly, pondering upon the role of the TPJ in processing body sensory information and its involvement in integrating self-perception and the sense of spatial orientation at least since 2015, I always thought that the TPJ, located where the temporal and parietal lobes meet, would have to be one of the brain signatures of OBE-onset since OBE-onset perceptions are related to spatial movements while still in the physical body and seem necessarily recorded by the brain (i.e., initial perception of the astral body by the body while going out of the body). Was I convinced that its electric manipulation would provoke OBEs? No, not really. Certainly, after hours of stimulating the TPJ of volunteers, some with a good amount of out-of-body experiences and some without, I continue convinced that the TPJ may be associated with OBE-Onset. However, unlike before, I'm now equally confident such types of stimulation can help induce OBEs.
Undoubtedly, some participants of this phenomenological study reported increased ease in achieving higher levels of exteriorization of their metaphysical body, compared to their normal levels, when specific types of transcranial Electric Stimulation (tES) were applied (Picture 3 shows one of the first attempts in 2019). Future studies will want to analyze such conditions through longitudinal studies by looking at how the different types of tES may modulate the neuroplastic properties of the brain to enhance projectability, verifying as we did, how certain types of tES work better when subjacent brain activity of the stimulated area exist, while other force the brain, even without subjacent neural activity. A condition providing a good measure of the progress of participants, amplifying their capacities without dependence.
N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) OBE Research:
Finally, but certainly not least, sponsored by Gamma Wave Technologies Ltd., we have pursued innovative research on psychedelics and carried out a pilot on N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) to examine the effects of DMT inhalation in a natural setting on individuals with a relatively high history of OBEs (Picture 5). The objective was not only to look at the neurophysiological correlates of such a state with a 128-EEG but to compare how such participants would evaluate their experiences, specifically if such experiences aligned with the OBEs experienced by such individuals without DMT.
Undoubtedly, DMT, a powerful psychedelic substance, induces intense visual hallucinations and alterations of consciousness that can be very different from OBEs with clear levels of lucidity. Nevertheless, such experiences are often described as similar to OBEs and Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). As such, endogenous DMT has been proposed as a model to explain these phenomena' neural and psychological underpinnings. However, the DMT effects have never been assessed by individuals with OBE experiences as a comparative measure of the similarities or differences of these experiences. By studying DMT-induced states, we hoped to gain insights into the neural and psychological mechanisms underlying OBEs and better understand whether or not DMT experiences are always OBE-related, as perceived by experienced OBErs—a fundamental question the article will explore.
Final thoughts and an invitation:
Throughout the intriguing journey of delving deep into the intricate landscapes of OBEs, if we may have unfolded some layers of the enigma, touching upon the essence of our existence and consciousness itself, it remains crucial to acknowledge that our explorations are just the tip of the iceberg. These were mostly pilots aiming to be constructed upon in future studies as science requires.
Such endeavour can only be possible through the collaborative spirit of curious explorers and experienced minds – with more objective OBE perceptions. A condition that will propel us further into novel uncharted territories of human consciousness. Our mission at the Sleep Consciousness Institute (SCI) is to pursue evidence-based knowledge and journey towards the profound aspects of our being. As such, we are currently recruiting participants for current and future research.
To that effect, we would like to invite those who have experienced the wonder of OBEs and have developed expertise along the way to join us and share their invaluable insights and experiences by participating in future laboratory research with SCI and affiliated research partners as they are being developed. Doing so you will contribute to the evolving tapestry of consciousness studies, which will clear the paths for countless seekers. If you resonate with our scientific quest and are interested in participating as an OBErs-research participant to further unravel the mysteries of the mind, please register at the link below. You will be asked to respond to a survey to be a subject in our current and upcoming laboratory research.
Through this research, we certainly hope to enrich our collective understanding, aiming to elevate the human spirit to its true potential, being beacons guiding our experiences through the expanse of human consciousness.
Sleep Consciousness Researcher.
Montenegro, R. (2020). The vibrational state: a novel neurophysiological state? Autoricerca(20), 191-231.
Tart, C. T. (1967). A second Psychophysiological study of out-of-the body experiences in a gifted subject. Parapsychology, 9, 251-258.
Tart, C. T. (1968). Psychophysiological Study of Out-of-the-Body experiences in a Selected Subject. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 62(1), 3-27.
 I'm writing a book on the subject where I will provide an extensive overview of that state and the many surveys carried over it.  Certainly, it is not the only one. The current scale I'm developing indicates that about 20 phenomena of OBE-onset are reported and not equally considered by OBE researchers.  Although, it turned out that even the experts could not always do it to induce it. As a matter of fact, some supposed experts turned down the invitation to be tested in the Lab, claiming a lack of time. In contrast, despite claiming otherwise, others who demonstrated the ability were not always successful inducing it.  Source localization infer into the distribution of current sources deeper into the brain from measured Electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings).  It should be noted that due to their small amplitude and high contamination by muscle artefacts, gamma waves are often underestimated in current research and not widely studied compared to other brain waves.  Epileptic seizures can indeed be associated with alterations in gamma wave activity in the same range but no known patients with epilepsy are able to trigger their epilepsy at will, such as it is the case during the VS. Epileptic seizures are typically caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, and they are usually involuntary and unpredictable.  "True" because it is not rare that the state is reported to be induced, but it is rare to find experiencers that have a good knowledge of that state or can really induce it.