In today's major piece of not-news, Wired tells us that the anaesthetic drug Ketamine creates out-of-body experiences. Well actually, they say it "creates out-of-body illusions". Then in the next round of Chinese whispers, it becomes "Ketamine reveals the truth about the OBE". The source of these headlines is a (rather more circumspect) paper titled "Ketamine as a primary predictor of out-of-body experiences associated with multiple substance use":
Investigation of “out-of-body experiences” (OBEs) has implications for understanding both normal bodily-self integration and its vulnerabilities. Beyond reported associations between OBEs and specific brain regions, however, there have been few investigations of neurochemical systems relevant to OBEs. Ketamine, a drug used recreationally to achieve dissociative experiences, provides a real-world paradigm for investigating neurochemical effects. We investigate the strength of the association of OBEs and ketamine use relative to other common drugs of abuse. Self-report data (N = 192) from an online survey indicate that both lifetime frequency of ketamine use and OBEs during ketamine intoxication were more strongly related to the frequency of OBEs and related phenomena than other drugs. Moreover, the apparent effects of other drugs could largely be explained by associated ketamine use. The present results, consistent with the role of NMDA receptors in OBEs, should encourage future studies of the role of neurochemical systems in OBEs.
I say "not-news" because anybody familiar with the effects of Ketamine already knows that users often have OBEs. Additionally, there has already been much discussion of the similarity some Ketamine trips have to the near-death experience (NDE). So it's not really news (though the paper itself is of course interesting), and people are piling on a fair dose of hype about it being somehow 'explanatory'.
But here's the bonus for all you readers out there: you can dive into this topic in more depth by downloading Karl Jansen's book Ketamine: Dreams and Realities (2000) in its entirety (and completely legally) from the MAPS resource centre (or if you want a 'real book' version, head to Amazon.com). In there you'll find two whole chapters devoted to the Ketamine-OBE-NDE crossovers - fascinating reading, not to mention the rest of the book.