Your analogy is an excellent one, Lang!
1. Yes. Only when the gandhabba is inside the physical body, do we need the brain to extract memories.
2. When the gandhabba is outside (like in NDE), the gandhabba can directly tap into the viññāṇa dhātu and access memories. Even though such memories are still likely to be limited, they would be much more than the memories tapped while inside the physical body.
3. Furthermore, since seeing and hearing do not require eyes, ears, and the brain, a gandhabba outside the physical body can see and hear over long distances. Of course, they can go through the walls too.
– Many people with NDEs have reported different combinations of the above experiences.
– A friend of mine had cultivated anariya jhanas and could get out of the physical body. One example is that she once “went” to the temple (with the gandhabba body.) There is some kind of a signpost at the entrance, and she read something on it written in small letters. She had never read that previously. But she has now understood the futility of such things based on anariya jhana and would not “get out of the body” anymore. But she says she never went through walls or didn’t even try.
The physicist/Engineer with NDE experience that Lang referred to above talks about his experiences in the following youtube video. I just found it now and watched only a part of it: