Near-Death & Out of Body Experiences

Number 6

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Feb 19, 2002
Messages
192
Likes
18
Points
49
from the BBC: Journey to unlock 'out of body' mysteries

I thought this was interesting

In September, medical teams at 25 hospitals across the world revealed they were undertaking the largest study of its kind into near death experiences (NDE).

Researchers want to know if there is any truth in so called "out-of-body" incidents reported by gravely ill people.

One of the hospitals taking part in the research is Morriston Hospital in Swansea, where Dr Penny Sartori has become a leading expert on the phenomenon.

She gives her own personal insight into why the research is so important - and the impact it has had on her own life.


I was caring for the man on the night shift prior to his death. He communicated to me how he was feeling and that he wanted to die.

He looked into my eyes and the connection we made was something that profoundly affected me. I was very upset by the way the patient had died and became so depressed that I almost gave up nursing.

I looked for support by doing a nursing course that may give me a greater understanding of death but found that there were no suitable courses available. The only courses concerning death were palliative care courses which have a very different approach to caring for dying patients in intensive care units. So I read all that I could about death and came across NDEs.

I was instantly intrigued because people who had undergone a NDE were saying that death is nothing to be afraid of and that it is a wonderful thing.

This didn't mean that these people wanted to die but they knew that when it was their time to die they would not be afraid.

They described leaving their body and looking down from above then moving through darkness towards a bright light, some report watching the whole of their life flash before their eyes in a matter of seconds, they feel very peaceful and comfortable where they are.

Many meet deceased relatives who tell them that it is not their time and they have to go back, some may see a religious figure or a 'Being of Light'. Following the experience the person is usually profoundly transformed.

My scientific training as a nurse told me that these experiences couldn't possibly be more than an overactive imagination or some kind of wishful thinking or hallucination as the brain was shutting down as death approached.

How could it be possible for people to report clear, lucid experiences with great clarity of thought during a time when their hearts had stopped beating and blood is not being effectively pumped to the brain?

My curiosity got the better of me and as I was working in the ideal place in which to study these experiences I decided to undertake my own research project.

I wanted to investigate if these experiences could be attributed to the drugs that we gave the patients, to abnormal levels of oxygen or carbon dioxide in the blood and was there a way of verifying the out of body component?

So I hid symbols on top of the cardiac monitors at each patient's bedside which could only be viewed from an out of body perspective.

I began the research, which is the UK's largest clinical study to date, in 1997 and completed the data collection in 2003. The project was written up and the results analysed and in 2005 I was awarded a PhD by the University of Wales, Lampeter.

In June 2008 my book, an academic monograph, The Near-Death Experiences of Hospitalized Intensive care Patients: A Five Year Clinical Study was published by The Edwin Mellen Press. The reason that I chose to publish an academic book is because I believe these experiences need to be taken seriously.

Previous research into NDEs has been retrospective so there was no way of verifying if what the person was saying was correct or if indeed the person was near death at the time of their experience.

Important information was extracted from the medical and nursing notes such as oxygen / carbon dioxide levels in the blood during the time of the experience, the drugs administered during the emergency situation as well as people present in case an out of body experience was also reported.

The aim of the study was to have a greater understanding of death and therefore benefit future patients. Aspects learned from the study can make the last few weeks/days of a dying patient more comfortable and ensure heightened awareness of the patient's needs.

It also proved to be very helpful when counselling the relatives of patients who were critically ill. In appropriate situations it was useful to mention the experiences that some people reported as it had a very positive effect on the relatives and gave them great comfort.

Another great benefit of this study is to raise public awareness of these experiences.

People who have an NDE are initially overwhelmed and do not understand what has happened. They have just undergone the most profound experience that has totally transcended anything else they have experienced.

Very often words are not adequate to describe it and recall of the experience can evoke great emotion. If a patient plucks up the courage to talk about the experience then the response they get is of the utmost importance.

If they are met with a dismissive attitude that it is just a side effect of the drugs or a hallucination then this can be detrimental to the way in which they integrate the experience into their life. The patient may withdraw and never speak about it again but be left with lots of unanswered questions.

Hence it is important that the subject of NDEs becomes a very important aspect of the education of all healthcare professionals. This will ensure the best psychological aftercare of patients who have a NDE.

As our technology is becoming more advanced so it seems most likely that the incidence of NDEs will increase.

Accounts of NDEs have also been shown to be very helpful to people undergoing bereavement.

On a wider scale, the transformational aspect exhibited by many people who have had a NDE can greatly influence society. These people are usually more compassionate, tolerant and caring and this usually has a knock on effect to those around them.

Undertaking the study has not only enhanced the way I care for the patients in intensive care units but it has also given me a greater understanding of life. I believe that it is only when we start to learn about death that we really start to learn about life.

Current reductionist explanations for these experiences such as side effects of drugs, low levels of oxygen or that they are simply hallucinations are not supported by the clinical research so far.

It is therefore very important that this study is conducted on a large global scale as the more patients recruited the greater our understanding of these experiences, and indeed consciousness. Ultimately this will be of benefit to all future patients.

I have worked as a nurse in Morriston Hospital since 1989 and am very proud to say that I work there. It is great that Morriston is involved with this study as it will get world recognition for being the centre of excellence that it is.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7639798.stm
 

BIg_Slim

Junior Acolyte
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
Messages
95
Likes
1
Points
22
RE:NDE

I read a topic quite a while ago on NDE and i am sure it was on this board
Tho i cannot be 100%.
It involved a doctor who (with the patients permission), placed the bed of patients who were at deaths door on a VERY sensitive scale.When said patients
actualy expired, the scales recorded a drop of weight.... it was very small BUT it was there!...is this the soul leaving the body? who knows ..but im sure it could add some weight to NDE.
 

Dr_Baltar

Left Foot of God
Joined
May 24, 2007
Messages
2,667
Likes
1,043
Points
169
21 grams

"Enter Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Haverhill, Massachusetts. The doctor postulated the soul was material and therefore had mass, ergo a measurable drop in the weight of the deceased would be noted at the moment this essence parted ways with the physical remains. The belief that human beings are possessed of souls which depart their bodies after death and that these souls have detectable physical presences were around well before the 20th century, but claims that souls have measurable mass which falls within a specific range of weights can be traced to experiments conducted by Dr. MacDougall in 1907."
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
48,257
Likes
19,848
Points
284
Location
Eblana
Full text and comments at link.

The First Few Minutes After Death A three-year study will explore the nature of death and consciousness
www.popsci.com/sam-barrett/article/2008 ... ter-death#
By Sam Barrett Posted 10.31.2008 at 9:31 am 8 Comments

After countless accounts of near-death experiences, dating as far back as ancient Greece, science is now taking serious steps forward to explore the nature of the phenomenon. A new project aims to determine whether the experience is a physiological event or evidence that the human consciousness is far more complicated than we ever believed.

The Human Consciousness Project sets out to explore the nature of human consciousness and the brain. The first step of the project is the "Awareness During Resuscitation" study, a collaboration among more than 25 medical centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

With the expectation of recruiting 1,500 patients during a 36-month time frame, the study will examine everything that happens to the human brain during cardiac arrest, from oxygen levels to the ability to recall images. The participating hospitals will be outfitted with equipment to monitor any patient who goes into cardiac arrest. While the person is in arrest, resulting in a flat line, doctors will monitor oxygen levels and blood flow into the brain. If patients consent to additional testing after recovery, they will be asked to recall any memories they can from the time while they were in cardiac arrest. Regardless of the recollection, each experience is useful to the study. "If they have no memories, they're useful because we'll use them as a control group," says Dr. Sam Parnia, director of the Human Consciousness Project and leader of the study.

But the most intriguing aspect of the study is its attempt to study consciousness during clinical death. According to Parnia, the science of these "consciousness events" may be somewhat similar to the relation between Newtonian physics and quantum physics. Scientists once believed that Newtonian physics could answer all the questions in the universe. When they ventured into the sub-atomic realm, though, Newtonian physics no longer applied. But quantum physics did. Similarly, the near-death experience could be another state of consciousness with a different set of rules than what we currently understand, and beyond the limits of what current scientific methods can explain.
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
Near-death experiences: Heaven can wait
Tunnels, bright lights, visions of the deceased. Do near-death experiences really offer a glimpse of the afterlife – or is there a more rational explanation? Roger Dobson reports
Tuesday, 31 March 2009

When doctors returned to check on the patient who had almost died and been in a deep coma before being resuscitated, he thanked them for all the work they had done. He had, he told the surprised team of medics, been very impressed and had watched everything they had done. He had heard all that had been said, too, and, at one point, had been concerned when resuscitation was about to be abandoned. He then went on to describe in detail the room where he had been treated – although he had never been conscious in there.

That near-death experience is one of a number recorded by Dutch doctors and one of thousands of similar cases that have now been documented in a major worldwide study.

New research shows that many critically ill kidney dialysis patients have similar experiences, and that almost one in 10 heart-arrest survivors also report near-death experiences whose features include out of body sensations, bright lights, dark tunnels, and images of life events and spiritual entities.

But there's no consensus on what lies behind near-death experiences, even though they are being increasingly reported. Are they, as some people are convinced, signs of the soul leaving the body? Or are they, as others suggest, the last, dreamlike act put on by a dying brain?

Near-death experiences are surprisingly common. In the latest study, researchers quizzed 710 kidney dialysis patients and found that, out of 70 patients who had suffered a life-threatening event, 45 had gone though a near-death experience. And research by Virginia University shows that 10 per cent of heart-arrest patients, and 1 per cent of other cardiac patients, had reported having a near-death experience.

Near-death experiences occur in both sexes, in every culture, and at all ages. Researchers at the University Hospital of Geneva recently reported what they describe as the first case in a child of 12 who had undergone elective, uncomplicated surgery that had run into difficulties. But, in spite of considerable differences in ages, cultures and diseases, many features of near-death experiences are remarkably similar.

The spiritual theorists have it that this is the immediate prelude to death itself, and that it establishes that there is life after death. These theories take what the individual sees, hears and feels as being a report of exactly what happened. One suggestion is that, at the time of death, the body and soul separate and near-death experiences are a glimpse of the first part of that process.

A range of psychological theories have been put forward to explain the phenomenon. One suggests that it is a defence mechanism in the face of impending death. Another floats the idea that the working of the brain is somehow altered by changes in chemicals that occur shortly before death. Other explanations include false memories, a reaction to acute stress, and anoxia, or lack of oxygen, resulting in sensory disturbances.

A newer theory suggests the arousal system is implicated, and that the near-death experience is triggered by the crisis. The idea is that rapid eye movement (or REM sleep, where most dreaming occurs, and where the sleeper is paralysed, with only the heart, diaphragm, eye muscles and the smooth muscles active) is involved. At the root of the theory is the notion that some people are more prone to a condition called REM intrusion, where sleep paralysis occurs when they are awake. It is found in people with narcolepsy, or excessive sleepiness, and it can be accompanied by hallucinations or delusional experiences that are unusually vivid and often frightening.

Research led by Dr Kevin Nelson, clinical neurophysiologist and Professor of Neurology at the University of Kentucky shows that, out of 55 people who have had near-death experiences, 60 per cent had at least one prior occasion where REM sleep state intruded into wakefulness, compared to only 24 per cent in a control group. "Instead of passing directly between the REM state and wakefulness, the brain switch in those with a near-death experience is more likely to blend the REM state and wakefulness into one another," he says.

Brain regions involved in the REM state are part of the arousal system that regulates different states of consciousness, and are also part of the brain's fight-or-flight survival instinct. The theory, which is gaining support, is that people who have experienced a previous REM-intrusion are more likely to have a near-death experience under circumstances of peril. It has also been shown that stimulating the heart and lung nerve, as occurs during resuscitation, can trigger REM-intrusion.

The theory also has explanations for the common characteristics of near-death experience. The impression of being dead, for example, could be a reaction to the paralysis of REM, while the tunnel of light may be linked to changes in blood flow in the retina and visual activation by the REM system.

The paranormal and spiritual images may result from the fact that the limbic system, which is older than other parts of the brain and which is involved in behaviour, emotion and long-term memory, is strongly active during REM sleep. Out of body experiences – often reported by people under extreme stress – have also been linked to the arousal system.

While it offers explanations for many features of near-death experience, the researchers behind the arousal theory say that it is still work in progress. The problem for them and other researchers looking for more down-to-earth explanations is that they have to find a rationale for their theories, unlike the spiritual theorists who accept everything as reported as evidence of paranormal activity.

Little fieldwork has been carried out to prove or disprove the spiritual theory as a whole, although out-of-body experiences have been examined. These experiences often involve the individual looking down from ceiling height at themselves on the operating table, or in a bed. To test whether these are real, some experimenters have placed labels and objects on the top of equipment that could only been seen from the ceiling. So far, no one has been able to spot them.

Floating away: An out-of-body experience

Thirty-five-year-old Pam Reynolds was being operated on for a potentially fatal rupture when she had a near-death experience. The surgical technique involved stopping her heartbeat and breathing, flattening brainwaves, and draining the blood from her head to remove the aneurysm.

"When she was once again able to speak, she reported that she awoke during the early stages of the operation to the sound of the small pneumatic saw that was being used to open her skull," says Dr Christopher French of Goldsmiths, University of London, who recounts the case in a report.

"She then felt as if she was being pulled out through the top of her head and, during the subsequent out-of-body experience, she was able to watch the proceedings from above the neurosurgeon's shoulder. Her account accords very well with those of the medical staff present at the time, including her description of the pneumatic saw and the fact that the cardiac surgeon expressed surprise that the blood vessels in her right groin were too small to handle the large flow of blood needed to feed the cardiopulmonary bypass machine.

"She reported that, after her heart was stopped and the blood drained from her body, she passed through a black vortex and into a realm of light where she met with deceased relatives. These relatives looked after her, provided her with nourishment, and eventually helped her to return to her physical body. She was able to report the music that was being played in the operating theatre at the point of her return."

Although the case is often presented as one that defies all conventional explanations, there are non-spiritual explanations. It is not uncommon, for example, for patients to awaken during operations and be able to recount what was going on, and a low level of brain activity is difficult to detect in an operating theatre.

Frequency of features experienced by people who have a near-death experience

Preternaturally vivid sensations 86.3%

Tunnel experience 5.9%

Feeling of joy 58.8%

Awareness of being dead 3.9%

Sense of sudden understanding 35.3%

Life review 19.6%

Sense of a mystical entity 33.3%

Feeling of peace 74.5%

Altered sense of time 41.2%

Out-of-body experience 51%

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style ... 57869.html
 

MachineElf

Junior Acolyte
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
68
Likes
0
Points
12
Hi folks.

I think the REM Intrusion theory alone cannot account for a lot of phenomena associated with the NDE. For example:

* the fact that when EEGs are available for some NDErs/OBErs, they are not producing REM (15-30Hz), when they are said to be having the experience. In fact many are flat-lined on an EEG, producing no identifiable brain rhythms at all.

* the hyperreal nature of the experience (ie. more real than real, not just vivid)

* the (almost) universally transformative nature of the experience (most NDErs of all ages are profoundly, life alteringly, affected by the content of their experience - unlike dream states, even vivid dream states)

* the logical, linear narrative of the experience that often includes philosophical discussion and decision-making which continues to make sense once conscious again (unlike highly symbolic dream states)

* the fact that many NDEs are not symbolism-rich, but take the form of 'expanded selfhood' (ie. the feeling that the person is 'one with everything' and has complete knowledge of a 'process greater than themselves')

Furthermore, the studies showing predisposition to REM intrusion are done post-NDE, showing only that NDErs are more likely to experience REM intrusion. No causal deduction can be made. NDErs also have unusual spikes in temporal lobe activity. Nobody knows if the patterns were there before the NDE.


That's enough for now; time for bed. :D
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
48,257
Likes
19,848
Points
284
Location
Eblana
End Of Life Spikes In Brain Waves: Physiological Markers For The Often Reported Near Death Experience?
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/166227.php
06 Oct 2009

Critical Care doctors at The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates studied the brain waves of seven dying patients. Each patient had normal brain activity in the moments before they were removed from life support with critical illnesses such as multi-organ failure, metastatic cancer or cardiac arrest. Each subsequently experienced a sudden electrical 'alertness' or spike in brain waves in the moments before they died. The spikes came in the same moments just before each patient's death. They rose to comparable levels and were consistent in duration.

What does this suggest about the workings of our brains as we die? The researchers offer an intriguing theory: could this be physiological evidence of the often reported Out Of Body or Near Death Experience - a cascade of vivid images or memories as patients slipped from consciousness.

"Near death experiences have been documented by a large number of people. Interestingly, these descriptions tend to have a similar theme in that the recollection is vivid and detailed. The nature of these experiences often invokes a spiritual or divine explanation, a topic well beyond the scope of this report. Nonetheless, the end of life is a poorly studied area of clinical medicine and deserves more attention. Whether this observation is meaningful will be determined by future investigation.'

Study investigators are Lakhmir Chawla, M.D.; Seth Akst, M.D., Christopher Junker, M.D.; Barbara Jacobs, R.N., and Michael Seneff, M.D. of The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates. Their research, 'Surges of Electroencephalogram Activity at the Time of Death: A Case Series,' is published in the October Journal of Palliative Medicine to be released on Monday, October 5, 2009.

Source
George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

staticgirl

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Oct 12, 2003
Messages
582
Likes
133
Points
74
Ghostly granny in NDE and widower's experience - N Ireland

Two rather poignant stories from Northern Ireland...

...What happened next was almost like a flash of light. I had never experienced anything like it before. Everything was bright like a white light. I seemed to be at the bottom of the stairs where I lived with my mum. My granny suddenly appeared. Her name was Maria. There was a visual face on her but her body was like lights. Her body was sparkling like fairy dust. It was bright like glitter. That’s the only way I can describe it. The brightness was unbelievable.

Her face was like I was looking at her in real life. It wasn’t like I was looking at a ghost or a spirit. It was her. It was her face as I knew it. It was her hair as well, silvery-grey and with the wee curls she used to have. She was a wee fat lady and she had these cheeks. I could see them plainly and her colour was perfect. I could also see her hands. ...
...As I approached the bedroom there was this blinding light. I thought, ‘That's very strange. t's only quarter to seven. The sun couldn't be up.' It was also strange to see sunlight at that time of the year. I got one toe in through the doorway and the whole room was white. It was blindingly white. I could just about see Jennifer's face. The coffin was there on a stand and the bed had been taken out. I could see her face but I couldn't see the rest of her. Everything seemed to disappear altogether.

There was a fold-up bed there and a few chairs and some built-in wardrobes behind the door to the right as you walk in. I couldn't see them. It was as if somebody had put a couple of 500-watt halogen lights into your face. ...
For both stories in full go here:
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/o...ally-speak-from-beyond-the-grave-14529315.html
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
That was the second part of extracts from a book: the first part is here:

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/busin ... 28728.html

The first story is a classic NDE, which ends:
I am certain the experience was real. I knew I had died at some point. The consultant knew too but nobody told me until later.

It’s a unique position I have been in. I still have that inner peace. And I have no fear of death. As a child I would have thought it would be a terrible thing to die. But, now that I’ve been there, it’s alright.

Whenever it comes to me, it will be OK. The only sadness I would have would be leaving people behind that I love. Other than that, it’s fine.”
Next is a sort of OOBE which convinced an ill woman her deceased mother was fine, and last is an apparition of a man's father, who died at the end of WWII.
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
Near-death experiences may be linked to raised carbon dioxide levels
David Rose, Health Correspondent

Commonly reported “near-death experiences”, such as seeing life flash before one’s eyes or having a spiritual experience, may be linked to raised levels of carbon dioxide, researchers say.

A study of 52 patients who were resuscitated after suffering a cardiac arrest found that about one in five (11 patients) reported unusual experiences such as feelings of peace and joy or supernatural encounters.

Those patients were found to have a higher concentration of CO2 in their breath and arteries, suggesting a possible physiological cause for the sensations.

Improvements in cardiac resuscitation techniques have meant that the number of reported near-death experiences (NDEs) has increased, with some survivors believing that their experiences provide evidence for the afterlife.

The Slovenian researchers, writing in the Biomed Central journal Critical Care, said that the link with CO2 had not been made before, and suggested that “some physiological factors or processes might be important in the provoking of NDEs”.

Zalika Klemenc-Ketis, who led the team from the University of Maribor, said that further studies were required, using larger sample sizes to investigate the apparent link.

“Several theories explaining the mechanisms of NDEs exist,” she said. “We found that in those patients who experienced the phenomenon, blood carbon dioxide levels were significantly higher than in those who did not.”

She added that high levels of potassium may also play a role in the brain of a dying patient, but independent experts said that it was not clear whether the chemicals would be a cause of reported sensations or experiences or simply a marker of better resuscitation techniques that could lead to better recall.

Dr Sam Parnia, a senior research fellow at the University of Southampton who is conducting a study on NDEs in cardiac failure patients in Britain and America, said that the research was “quite interesting — albeit a very small study”.

He added that high levels of CO2 were an indicator of getting blood back to the brain due to improved techniques in restarting the heart.

“This may explain why [patients] have better recall of the experience, it doesn’t mean the CO2 was causing the experience,” he said. “These observations may indicate that those patients who had improved resuscitation had better brain recovery and hence better recall and less amnesic effects of brain injury, which seems to be what limits people’s ability to recall their near death experiences.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_a ... 091118.ece
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
Boy, 3, tells how he 'saw grandmother in Heaven' before being brought back from the dead after falling into pond
By Allan Hall
Last updated at 7:43 AM on 19th April 2010

A boy of three claims he saw his great grandmother in heaven while he was clinically dead after falling into a pond.
Paul Eicke came back to life more than three hours after his heart stopped beating.

It is believed he was in the pond at his grandparents' house for several minutes before his grandfather saw him and pulled him out.
His father gave him heart massage and mouth-to-mouth during the ten minutes it took a helicopter to arrive.
Paramedics then took over and Paul was taken the ten-minute journey to hospital. Doctors tried to resuscitate him for hours. They had just given up when, three hours and 18 minutes after he was brought in, Paul's heart started beating independently.

Professor Lothar Schweigerer, director of the Helios Clinic where Paul was taken, said: 'I have never experienced anything like it.
'When children have been underwater for a few minutes they mostly don't make it. This is a most extraordinary case.'

The boy said that while unconscious he saw his great grandmother Emmi, who had turned him back from a gate and urged him to go back to his parents.
Paul said: 'There was a lot of light and I was floating. I came to a gate and I saw Grandma Emmi on the other side.
'She said to me, "What are you doing here Paul? You must go back to mummy and daddy. I will wait for you here."
'I knew I was in heaven. But grandma said I had to come home. She said that I should go back very quickly.
'Heaven looked nice. But I am glad I am back with mummy and daddy now.'
Paul is now back at home in Lychen, north of Berlin in Germany, and there appears to be no sign of brain damage.

Statistics from America show the majority of children who survive drownings - 92 per cent - are discovered within two minutes following submersion.
Nearly all who require cardiopulmonary resuscitation die or are left with severe brain injury.
But the water in the pond was very cold and the boy's core temperature was just 28c, compared to the normal of 37c.
Cold temperatures slow the metabolism-which means the body can survive for longer without oxygen.
If the temperature had been higher, the team would have stopped trying to resuscitate after 40 minutes because the boy would definitely have been brain dead.
Instead, they carried on with the chest compressions to stimulate Paul's organs, which had shut down after he breathed in the cold water.

Professor Schweigerer went on: 'My doctors were close to saying "we can do no more" after two hours of thorax compression.
'This was because the chances of survival had gone and the little lad must have been brain dead.
'But then suddenly his heart started to beat again ... it was a fantastic miracle.
'I've been doing this job for 30 years and have never seen anything like this. It goes to show the human body is a very resilient organism and you should never give up.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z0lXJOACuH
 

danny_cogdon

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
May 28, 2008
Messages
478
Likes
10
Points
34
I remember reading an article (I think it was in FT) where a doctor said he only considered someone to be really dead when they were warm and dead.
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
That’s not the afterlife – it’s a brainstorm
Near-death experiences may be caused by a cascade of electrical activity in the dying brainJonathan Leake

DOCTORS believe they may have found the cause of the powerful spiritual experiences reported by people “brought back from the dead”.

A study of the brainwaves of dying patients showed a surge of electrical activity in the moments before their lives ended.

The researchers suggest this surge may be the cause of near-death experiences, the mysterious medical phenomena in which patients who have been revived when close to death report sensations such as walking towards a bright light or a feeling that they are floating above their body.

Many people experience the sensation as a religious vision and treat it as confirmation of an afterlife. However, the scientists behind the new research believe that is wrong.

“We think the near-death experiences could be caused by a surge of electrical energy released as the brain runs out of oxygen,” said Lakhmir Chawla, an intensive care doctor at George Washington University medical centre in Washington.

“As blood flow slows down and oxygen levels fall, the brain cells fire one last electrical impulse. It starts in one part of the brain and spreads in a cascade and this may give people vivid mental sensations.”

Many revived patients have reported being bathed in bright light or suffused with a sense of peace as they start to walk into a light-filled tunnel. A few even say they experienced visions of religious figures such as Jesus or Muhammad or Krishna, while others describe floating above their own deathbed, observing the scene.

In one of the most famous cases, in 1991, Pam Reynolds, an American singer, reported watching the top of her own skull being removed by surgeons before she moved into a bright glowing realm, including detailed accounts of the surgery and the conversations by her surgeons.

If Chawla is right, however, such experiences have a biological explanation rather than a metaphysical one. In the research he used an electroencephalograph (EEG), a device that measures brain activity, to monitor seven terminally ill people.

The medical purpose of the devices was to make sure that the patients, suffering from conditions such as cancer and heart failure, were sufficiently sedated to be out of pain. However, Chawla noticed that moments before death the patients experienced a burst in brainwave activity lasting from 30 seconds to three minutes.

The activity was similar to that seen in people who are fully conscious, even though the patients appeared asleep and had no blood pressure. Soon after the surge abated, they were pronounced dead.

Chawla’s research, published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, is thought to be the first to suggest that near-death experiences have a particular physiological cause. Although it describes only seven patients, he says he has seen the same things happening “at least 50 times” as people die.

Other scientific studies suggest that 15%-20% of people who go through cardiac arrest and clinical death report lucid, well-structured thought processes, reasoning, memories and sometimes detailed recall of events during their encounter with death.

In Britain, such research has prompted the launch of the Awareness During Resuscitation study, known as Aware, led by Sam Parnia, an intensive care physician at Cornell Medical Center in New York, who is also a researcher at Southampton University's school of medicine.

Parnia believes Chawla’s research is interesting, but treats its conclusions with caution, pointing out that there is no proof that the electrical surge observed by Chawla is linked to a near-death experience.

“Since the patients all died, we cannot tell what they were experiencing,” he said.


Parnia and his colleagues are interviewing 700 Britons who have had cardiac arrests and been brought back to life. The aim is to study all the mental consequences of cardiac arrests, ranging from near-death experiences to long-term cognitive disabilities.

“We see death as a moment, but actually it is a process and one which modern medicine can often reverse,” said Parnia. “Death starts when the heart stops beating, but we can intervene and bring them back to life, sometimes even after 3-4 hours when people are kept very cold.

“It could be that a far higher proportion of people have near-death experiences but just don’t remember them.”

Those who do remember such phenomena, however, can find their lives transformed. One Dutch study, published in 2001 in The Lancet, the medical journal, looked at 344 cardiac arrest victims, finding that 18% of them underwent near-death experiences.

The researchers followed surviving patients for several years, finding that those who had had a near-death experience became happier, more altruistic, less afraid of death and less materialistic.

Chawla says the study is an important first step in understanding near-death experiences but is now planning further research using much more advanced EEG machines to see if he can confirm a link between the observed surge in brain activity and patients’ experiences.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/s ... 140165.ece

And maybe the electrical activity is the last action of the dying body as it prepares the soul for release to the afterlife...

In other words, this research proves nothing, but it means different things to different people, depending on their prior beliefs and expectations.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
12,488
Likes
14,070
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
Peace of Mind: Near-Death Experiences Now Found to Have Scientific Explanations

By Charles Q. Choi | September 12, 2011 | 1

Near-death experiences are often thought of as mystical phenomena, but research is now revealing scientific explanations for virtually all of their common features. The details of what happens in near-death experiences are now known widely—a sense of being dead, a feeling that one's "soul" has left the body, a voyage toward a bright light, and a departure to another reality where love and bliss are all-encompassing.

Approximately 3 percent of the U.S. population says they have had a near-death experience, according to a Gallup poll. Near-death experiences are reported across cultures, with written records of them dating back to ancient Greece. Not all of these experiences actually coincide with brushes with death—one study of 58 patients who recounted near-death experiences found 30 were not actually in danger of dying, although most of them thought they were.

Recently, a host of studies has revealed potential underpinnings for all the elements of such experiences. "Many of the phenomena associated with near-death experiences can be biologically explained," says neuroscientist Dean Mobbs, at the University of Cambridge's Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. Mobbs and Caroline Watt at the University of Edinburgh detailed this research online August 17 in Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

For instance, the feeling of being dead is not limited to near-death experiences—patients with Cotard or "walking corpse" syndrome hold the delusional belief that they are deceased. This disorder has occurred following trauma, such as during advanced stages of typhoid and multiple sclerosis, and has been linked with brain regions such as the parietal cortex and the prefrontal cortex—"the parietal cortex is typically involved in attentional processes, and the prefrontal cortex is involved in delusions observed in psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia," Mobbs explains. Although the mechanism behind the syndrome remains unknown, one possible explanation is that patients are trying to make sense of the strange experiences they are having.

Out-of-body experiences are also now known to be common during interrupted sleep patterns that immediately precede sleeping or waking. For instance, sleep paralysis, or the experience of feeling paralyzed while still aware of the outside world, is reported in up to 40 percent of all people and is linked with vivid dreamlike hallucinations that can result in the sensation of floating above one's body. A 2005 study found that out-of-body experiences can be artificially triggered by stimulating the right temporoparietal junction in the brain, suggesting that confusion regarding sensory information can radically alter how one experiences one's body.

A variety of explanations might also account for reports by those dying of meeting the deceased. Parkinson's disease patients, for example, have reported visions of ghosts, even monsters. The explanation? Parkinson's involves abnormal functioning of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that can evoke hallucinations. And when it comes to the common experience of reliving moments from one's life, one culprit might be the locus coeruleus, a midbrain region that releases noradrenaline, a stress hormone one would expect to be released in high levels during trauma. The locus coeruleus is highly connected with brain regions that mediate emotion and memory, such as the amygdala and hypothalamus.

In addition, research now shows that a number of medicinal and recreational drugs can mirror the euphoria often felt in near-death experiences, such as the anesthetic ketamine, which can also trigger out-of-body experiences and hallucinations. Ketamine affects the brain's opioid system, which can naturally become active even without drugs when animals are under attack, suggesting trauma might set off this aspect of near-death experiences, Mobbs explains.

Finally, one of the most famous aspects of near-death hallucinations is moving through a tunnel toward a bright light. Although the specific causes of this part of near-death experiences remain unclear, tunnel vision can occur when blood and oxygen flow is depleted to the eye, as can happen with the extreme fear and oxygen loss that are both common to dying.

Altogether, scientific evidence suggests that all features of the near-death experience have some basis in normal brain function gone awry. Moreover, the very knowledge of the lore regarding near-death episodes might play a crucial role in experiencing them—a self-fulfilling prophecy. Such findings "provide scientific evidence for something that has always been in the realm of paranormality," Mobbs says. "I personally believe that understanding the process of dying can help us come to terms with this inevitable part of life."

One potential obstacle to further research on near-death experiences will be analyzing them experimentally, says cognitive neuroscientist Olaf Blanke at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne in Switzerland, who has investigated out-of-body experiences. Still, "our work has shown that this can be done for out-of-body experiences, so why not for near-death-experience-associated sensations?"

SOURCE: http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... near-death
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
EnolaGaia said:
Peace of Mind: Near-Death Experiences Now Found to Have Scientific Explanations
SOURCE: http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... near-death
A bit of a hand-waving exercise, that article. I counted six uses of the word 'might'.

Not all the research quoted is new, and much of it is there because it 'might' be relevent! ;)
Finally, one of the most famous aspects of near-death hallucinations is moving through a tunnel toward a bright light. Although the specific causes of this part of near-death experiences remain unclear, tunnel vision can occur when blood and oxygen flow is depleted to the eye, as can happen with the extreme fear and oxygen loss that are both common to dying.
This has often been claimed, but counter examples have been reported by people (often aviators) who did experience oxygen starvation, of perfectly clear OOBEs, not the tunnel and light thing. (I'm pretty sure there are such examples on this board.)
 

GNC

King-Sized Canary
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
27,419
Likes
12,023
Points
284
escargot1 said:
Apparently, after a NDE people can become scarily psychic. :shock:
Pretty high price to pay for superpowers! I hope this information doesn't encourage any Flatliners-esque "experimentation"...
 

Zilch5

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
1,565
Likes
25
Points
54
Near death, explained
New science is shedding light on what really happens during out-of-body experiences -- with shocking results.


In 1991, Atlanta-based singer and songwriter Pam Reynolds felt extremely dizzy, lost her ability to speak, and had difficulty moving her body. A CAT scan showed that she had a giant artery aneurysm—a grossly swollen blood vessel in the wall of her basilar artery, close to the brain stem. If it burst, which could happen at any moment, it would kill her. But the standard surgery to drain and repair it might kill her too.

With no other options, Pam turned to a last, desperate measure offered by neurosurgeon Robert Spetzler at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Spetzler was a specialist and pioneer in hypothermic cardiac arrest—a daring surgical procedure nicknamed “Operation Standstill.” Spetzler would bring Pam’s body down to a temperature so low that she was essentially dead. Her brain would not function, but it would be able to survive longer without oxygen at this temperature. The low temperature would also soften the swollen blood vessels, allowing them to be operated on with less risk of bursting. When the procedure was complete, the surgical team would bring her back to a normal temperature before irreversible damage set in.

Essentially, Pam agreed to die in order to save her life—and in the process had what is perhaps the most famous case of independent corroboration of out of body experience (OBE) perceptions on record. This case is especially important because cardiologist Michael Sabom was able to obtain verification from medical personnel regarding crucial details of the surgical intervention that Pam reported. Here’s what happened.

Pam was brought into the operating room at 7:15 a.m., she was given general anesthesia, and she quickly lost conscious awareness. At this point, Spetzler and his team of more than 20 physicians, nurses, and technicians went to work. They lubricated Pam’s eyes to prevent drying, and taped them shut. They attached EEG electrodes to monitor the electrical activity of her cerebral cortex. They inserted small, molded speakers into her ears and secured them with gauze and tape. The speakers would emit repeated 100-decibel clicks—approximately the noise produced by a speeding express train—eliminating outside sounds and measuring the activity of her brainstem.

At 8:40 a.m., the tray of surgical instruments was uncovered, and Robert Spetzler began cutting through Pam’s skull with a special surgical saw that produced a noise similar to a dental drill. At this moment, Pam later said, she felt herself “pop” out of her body and hover above it, watching as doctors worked on her body.

Although she no longer had use of her eyes and ears, she described her observations in terms of her senses and perceptions. “I thought the way they had my head shaved was very peculiar,” she said. “I expected them to take all of the hair, but they did not.” She also described the Midas Rex bone saw (“The saw thing that I hated the sound of looked like an electric toothbrush and it had a dent in it … ”) and the dental-drill sound it made with considerable accuracy.

Meanwhile, Spetzler was removing the outermost membrane of Pamela’s brain, cutting it open with scissors. At about the same time, a female cardiac surgeon was attempting to locate the femoral artery in Pam’s right groin. Remarkably, Pam later claimed to remember a female voice saying, “We have a problem. Her arteries are too small.” And then a male voice: “Try the other side.” Medical records confirm this conversation, yet Pam could not have heard them.

The cardiac surgeon was right—Pam’s blood vessels were indeed too small to accept the abundant blood flow requested by the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, so at 10:50 a.m., a tube was inserted into Pam’s left femoral artery and connected to the cardiopulmonary bypass machine. The warm blood circulated from the artery into the cylinders of the bypass machine, where it was cooled down before being returned to her body. Her body temperature began to fall, and at 11:05 a.m. Pam’s heart stopped. Her EEG brain waves flattened into total silence. A few minutes later, her brain stem became totally unresponsive, and her body temperature fell to a sepulchral 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At 11:25 a.m., the team tilted up the head of the operating table, turned off the bypass machine, and drained the blood from her body. Pamela Reynolds was clinically dead.

At this point, Pam’s out-of-body adventure transformed into a near-death experience (NDE): She recalls floating out of the operating room and traveling down a tunnel with a light. She saw deceased relatives and friends, including her long-dead grandmother, waiting at the end of this tunnel. She entered the presence of a brilliant, wonderfully warm and loving light, and sensed that her soul was part of God and that everything in existence was created from the light (the breathing of God). But this extraordinary experience ended abruptly, as Reynolds’s deceased uncle led her back to her body—a feeling she described as “plunging into a pool of ice.”

Meanwhile, in the operating room, the surgery had come to an end. When all the blood had drained from Pam’s brain, the aneurysm simply collapsed and Spetzler clipped it off. Soon, the bypass machine was turned on and warm blood was pumped back into her body. As her body temperature started to increase, her brainsteam began to respond to the clicking speakers in her ears and the EEG recorded electrical activity in the cortex. The bypass machine was turned off at 12:32 p.m. Pam’s life had been restored, and she was taken to the recovery room in stable condition at 2:10 p.m.

Tales of otherworldly experiences have been part of human cultures seemingly forever, but NDEs as such first came to broad public attention in 1975 by way of American psychiatrist and philosopher Raymond Moody’s popular book Life After Life. He presented more than 100 case studies of people who experienced vivid mental experiences close to death or during “clinical death” and were subsequently revived to tell the tale. Their experiences were remarkably similar, and Moody coined the term NDE to refer to this phenomenon. The book was popular and controversial, and scientific investigation of NDEs began soon after its publication with the founding, in 1978, of the International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS)—the first organization in the world devoted to the scientific study of NDEs and their relationship to mind and consciousness.

NDEs are the vivid, realistic, and often deeply life-changing experiences of men, women, and children who have been physiologically or psychologically close to death. They can be evoked by cardiac arrest and coma caused by brain damage, intoxication, or asphyxia. They can also happen following such events as electrocution, complications from surgery, or severe blood loss during or after a delivery. They can even occur as the result of accidents or illnesses in which individuals genuinely fear they might die. Surveys conducted in the United States and Germany suggest that approximately 4.2 percent of the population has reported an NDE. It has also been estimated that more than 25 million individuals worldwide have had an NDE in the past 50 years.

People from all walks of life and belief systems have this experience. Studies indicate that the experience of an NDE is not influenced by gender, race, socioeconomic status, or level of education. Although NDEs are sometimes presented as religious experiences, this seems to be a matter of individual perception. Furthermore, researchers have found no relationship between religion and the experience of an NDE. That is, it did not matter whether the people recruited in those studies were Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, or agnostic.

Although the details differ, NDEs are characterized by a number of core features. Perhaps the most vivid is the OBE: the sense of having left one’s body and of watching events going on around one’s body or, occasionally, at some distant physical location. During OBEs, near-death experiencers (NDErs) are often astonished to discover that they have retained consciousness, perception, lucid thinking, memory, emotions, and their sense of personal identity. If anything, these processes are heightened: Thinking is vivid; hearing is sharp; and vision can extend to 360 degrees. NDErs claim that without physical bodies, they are able to penetrate through walls and doors and project themselves wherever they want. They frequently report the ability to read people’s thoughts.

The effects of NDEs on the experience are intense, overwhelming, and real. A number of studies conducted in United States, Western European countries, and Australia have shown that most NDErs are profoundly and positively transformed by the experience. One woman says, “I was completely altered after the accident. I was another person, according to those who lived near me. I was happy, laughing, appreciated little things, joked, smiled a lot, became friends with everyone … so completely different than I was before!”

However different their personalities before the NDE, experiencers tend to share a similar psychological profile after the NDE. Indeed, their beliefs, values, behaviors, and worldviews seem quite comparable afterward. Importantly, these psychological and behavioral changes are not the kind of changes one would expect if this experience were a hallucination. And, as noted NDE researcher Pim van Lommel and his colleagues have demonstrated, these changes become more apparent with the passage of time.

Some skeptics legitimately argue that the main problem with reports of OBE perceptions is that they often rest uniquely on the NDEr’s testimony—there is no independent corroboration. From a scientific perspective, such self-reports remain inconclusive. But during the last few decades, some self-reports of NDErs have been independently corroborated by witnesses, such as that of Pam Reynolds. One of the best known of these corroborated veridical NDE perceptions—perceptions that can be proven to coincide with reality—is the experience of a woman named Maria, whose case was first documented by her critical care social worker, Kimberly Clark.

Maria was a migrant worker who had a severe heart attack while visiting friends in Seattle. She was rushed to Harborview Hospital and placed in the coronary care unit. A few days later, she had a cardiac arrest but was rapidly resuscitated. The following day, Clark visited her. Maria told Clark that during her cardiac arrest she was able to look down from the ceiling and watch the medical team at work on her body. At one point in this experience, said Maria, she found herself outside the hospital and spotted a tennis shoe on the ledge of the north side of the third floor of the building. She was able to provide several details regarding its appearance, including the observations that one of its laces was stuck underneath the heel and that the little toe area was worn. Maria wanted to know for sure whether she had “really” seen that shoe, and she begged Clark to try to locate it.

Quite skeptical, Clark went to the location described by Maria—and found the tennis shoe. From the window of her hospital room, the details that Maria had recounted could not be discerned. But upon retrieval of the shoe, Clark confirmed Maria’s observations. “The only way she could have had such a perspective,” said Clark, “was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe. I retrieved the shoe and brought it back to Maria; it was very concrete evidence for me.”

This case is particularly impressive given that during cardiac arrest, the flow of blood to the brain is interrupted. When this happens, the brain’s electrical activity (as measured with EEG) disappears after 10 to 20 seconds. In this state, a patient is deeply comatose. Because the brain structures mediating higher mental functions are severely impaired, such patients are expected to have no clear and lucid mental experiences that will be remembered. Nonetheless, studies conducted in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States have revealed that approximately 15 percent of cardiac arrest survivors do report some recollection from the time when they were clinically dead. These studies indicate that consciousness, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings can be experienced during a period when the brain shows no measurable activity.

NDEs experienced by people who do not have sight in everyday life are quite intriguing. In 1994, researchers Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper decided to undertake a search for cases of NDE-based perception in the blind. They reasoned that such cases would represent the ultimate demonstration of veridical perceptions during NDEs. If a blind person was able to report on verifiable events that took place when they were clinically dead, that would mean something real was occurring. They interviewed 31 individuals, of whom 14 were blind from birth. Twenty-one of the participants had had an NDE; the others had had OBEs only. Strikingly, the experiences they reported conform to the classic NDE pattern, whether they were born blind or had lost their sight in later life. The results of the study were published in 1997. Based on all the cases they investigated, Ring and Cooper concluded that what happens during an NDE affords another perspective to perceive reality that does not depend on the senses of the physical body. They proposed to call this other mode of perception mindsight.

Despite corroborated reports, many materialist scientists cling to the notion that OBEs and NDEs are located in the brain. In 2002, neurologist Olaf Blanke and colleagues at the University Hospitals of Geneva and Lausanne in Switzerland described in the prestigious scientific journal Nature the strange occurrence that happened to a 43-year-old female patient with epilepsy. Because her seizures could not be controlled by medication alone, neurosurgery was being considered as the next step. The researchers implanted electrodes in her right temporal lobe to provide information about the localization and extent of the epileptogenic zone—the area of the brain that was causing the seizures—which had to be surgically removed. Other electrodes were implanted to identify and localize, by means of electrical stimulation, the areas of the brain that—if removed—would result in loss of sensory capacities, linguistic ability, or even paralysis. Such a procedure is particularly critical to spare important brain areas that are adjacent to the epileptogenic zone.

When they stimulated the angular gyrus—a region of the brain in the parietal lobe that is thought to integrate sensory information related to vision, touch, and balance to give us a perception of our own bodies—the patient reported seeing herself “lying in bed, from above, but I only see my legs and lower trunk.” She described herself as “floating” near the ceiling. She also reported seeing her legs “becoming shorter.”

The article received global press coverage and created quite a commotion. The editors of Nature went so far as to declare triumphantly that as a result of this one study—which involved only one patient—the part of the brain that can induce OBEs had been located.

“It’s another blow against those who believe that the mind and spirit are somehow separate from the brain,” said psychologist Michael Shermer, director of the Skeptics Society, which seeks to debunk all kinds of paranormal claims. “In reality, all experience is derived from the brain.”

In another article published in 2004, Blanke and co-workers described six patients, of whom three had experienced an atypical and incomplete OBE. Four patients reported an autoscopy—that is, they saw their own double from the vantage point of their own body. In this paper, the researchers describe an OBE as a temporary dysfunction of the junction of the temporal and parietal cortex. But, as Pim van Lommel noted, the abnormal bodily experiences described by Blanke and colleagues entail a false sense of reality. Typical OBEs, in contrast, implicate a verifiable perception (from a position above or outside of the body) of events, such as their own resuscitation or a traffic accident, and the surroundings in which the events took place. Along the same lines, psychiatrist Bruce Greyson of the University of Virginia commented that “We cannot assume from the fact that electrical stimulation of the brain can induce OBE-like illusions that all OBEs are therefore illusions.”

Materialistic scientists have proposed a number of physiological explanations to account for the various features of NDEs. British psychologist Susan Blackmore has propounded the “dying brain” hypothesis: that a lack of oxygen (or anoxia) during the dying process might induce abnormal firing of neurons in brain areas responsible for vision, and that such an abnormal firing would lead to the illusion of seeing a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Would it? Van Lommel and colleagues objected that if anoxia plays a central role in the production of NDEs, most cardiac arrest patients would report an NDE. Studies show that this is clearly not the case. Another problem with this view is that reports of a tunnel are absent from several accounts of NDErs. As pointed out by renowned NDE researcher Sam Parnia, some individuals have reported an NDE when they had not been terminally ill and so would have had normal levels of oxygen in their brains.

Parnia raises another problem: When oxygen levels decrease markedly, patients whose lungs or hearts do not work properly experience an “acute confusional state,” during which they are highly confused and agitated and have little or no memory recall. In stark contrast, during NDEs people experience lucid consciousness, well-structured thought processes, and clear reasoning. They also have an excellent memory of the NDE, which usually stays with them for several decades. In other respects, Parnia argues that if this hypothesis is correct, then the illusion of seeing a light and tunnel would progressively develop as the patient’s blood oxygen level drops. Medical observations, however, indicate that patients with low oxygen levels do not report seeing a light, a tunnel, or any of the common features of an NDE we discussed earlier.

During the 1990s, more research indicated that the anoxia theory of NDEs was on the wrong track. James Whinnery, a chemistry professor with West Texas A&M, was involved with studies simulating the extreme conditions that can occur during aerial combat maneuvers. In these studies, fighter pilots were subjected to extreme gravitational forces in a giant centrifuge. Such rapid acceleration decreases blood flow and, consequently, delivery of oxygen to the brain. In so doing, it induces brief periods of unconsciousness that Whinnery calls “dreamlets.” Whinnery hypothesized that although some of the core features of NDEs are found during dreamlets, the main characteristics of dreamlets are impaired memory for events just prior to the onset of unconsciousness, confusion, and disorientation upon awakening. These symptoms are not typically associated with NDEs. In addition, life transformations are never reported following dreamlets.

So, if the “dying brain” is not responsible for NDEs, could they simply be hallucinations? In my opinion, the answer is no. Let’s look at the example of hallucinations that can result from ingesting ketamine, a veterinary drug that is sometimes used recreationally, and often at great cost to the user.

At small doses, the anesthetic agent ketamine can induce hallucinations and feelings of being out of the body. Ketamine is thought to act primarily by inhibiting N-Methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors, which normally open in response to binding of glutamate, the most abundant excitatory chemical messenger in the human brain. Psychiatrist Karl Jensen has speculated that the blockade of NMDA receptors may induce an NDE. But ketamine experiences are often frightening, producing weird images; and most ketamine users realize that the experiences produced by this drug are illusory. In contrast, NDErs are strongly convinced of the reality of what they experienced. Furthermore, many of the central features of NDEs are not reported with ketamine. That being said, we cannot rule out that the blockade of NMDA receptors may be involved in some NDEs.

Neuroscientist Michael Persinger has claimed that he and his colleagues have produced all the major features of the NDE by using weak transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the temporal lobes. Persinger’s work is based on the premise that abnormal activity in the temporal lobe may trigger an NDE. A review of the literature on epilepsy, however, indicates that the classical features of NDEs are not associated with epileptic seizures located in the temporal lobes. Moreover, as Bruce Greyson and his collaborators have correctly emphasized, the experiences reported by participants in Persinger’s TMS studies bear little resemblance with the typical features of NDEs.

The scientific NDE studies performed over the past decades indicate that heightened mental functions can be experienced independently of the body at a time when brain activity is greatly impaired or seemingly absent (such as during cardiac arrest). Some of these studies demonstrate that blind people can have veridical perceptions during OBEs associated with an NDE. Other investigations show that NDEs often result in deep psychological and spiritual changes.

These findings strongly challenge the mainstream neuroscientific view that mind and consciousness result solely from brain activity. As we have seen, such a view fails to account for how NDErs can experience—while their hearts are stopped—vivid and complex thoughts and acquire verhttp://www.salon.com/2012/04/21/near ... ned/idical information about objects or events remote from their bodies.

NDE studies also suggest that after physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness. Needless to say, this view is utterly incompatible with the belief of many materialists that the material world is the only reality.

Excerpted with permission from “The Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives.” Courtesy of HarperOne.
http://www.salon.com/2012/04/21/near_death_explained/
 

gattino

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 30, 2003
Messages
1,889
Likes
3,384
Points
184
Heart surgeon gives account of patient's NDE

This is fascinating, if a little long. He's a bit of a rambler when it comes to the story telling so the preamble has a lot of cuts and jumps to make him get of with it. But...


When you see written accounts of these things there's a cold distance from them, and the sceptic and believer can argue over the wording and what was really said. So its interesting and different to hear a senior cardiac surgeon actually and cheerfully giving his own eyewitness testimony of what happened when one of his patients had a Near Death Experience...


http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=JL1oDuvQR08
 

Synchronous

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jul 4, 2009
Messages
151
Likes
6
Points
24
Excellent post; it's good to hear a medical professional's view of this absorbing phenomenon.

I recently spent some time trawling through a forum for nurses (may even have been from a link on the FTMB), a good 80% of which reported similar experiences - very interesting and not as easily explained in physiological terms as Susan Blackmore would like to think, methinks.
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
Afterlife exists says top brain surgeon
A prominent scientist who had previously dismissed the possibility of the afterlife says he has reconsidered his belief after experiencing an out of body experience which has convinced him that heaven exists.
By Mark Hughes, New York
7:52PM BST 09 Oct 2012

Dr Eben Alexander, a Harvard-educated neurosurgeon, fell into a coma for seven days in 2008 after contracting meningitis.
During his illness Dr Alexander says that the part of his brain which controls human thought and emotion "shut down" and that he then experienced "something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death." In an essay for American magazine Newsweek, which he wrote to promote his book Proof of Heaven, Dr Alexander says he was met by a beautiful blue-eyed woman in a "place of clouds, big fluffy pink-white ones" and "shimmering beings".

He continues: "Birds? Angels? These words registered later, when I was writing down my recollections. But neither of these words do justice to the beings themselves, which were quite simply different from anything I have known on this planet. They were more advanced. Higher forms." The doctor adds that a "huge and booming like a glorious chant, came down from above, and I wondered if the winged beings were producing it. the sound was palpable and almost material, like a rain that you can feel on your skin but doesn't get you wet."

Dr Alexander says he had heard stories from patients who spoke of outer [sic!] body experiences but had disregarded them as "wishful thinking" but has reconsidered his opinion following his own experience.

He added: "I know full well how extraordinary, how frankly unbelievable, all this sounds. Had someone even a doctor told me a story like this in the old days, I would have been quite certain that they were under the spell of some delusion.

"But what happened to me was, far from being delusional, as real or more real than any event in my life. That includes my wedding day and the birth of my two sons." He added: "I've spent decades as a neurosurgeon at some of the most prestigous medical institutions in our country. I know that many of my peers hold as I myself did to the theory that the brain, and in particular the cortex, generates consciousness and that we live in a universe devoid of any kind of emotion, much less the unconditional love that I now know God and the universe have toward us.

"But that belief, that theory, now lies broken at our feet. What happened to me destroyed it."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... rgeon.html
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
...and the inevitable sceptical response:

Is the afterlife full of fluffy clouds and angels?
What does the neuroscientist Colin Blakemore make of an American neurosurgeon’s account of the afterlife?
By Colin Blakemore
8:47PM BST 10 Oct 2012

Have you ever noticed that more people come back from Heaven than from Hell? We have all read those astonishing reports of near-death experiences (NDEs, as the aficionados call them) – the things that people say have happened to them when they almost, but don’t quite, shuffle off the coil.

They are nearly always pleasant and deeply reassuring in a saccharin-soaked way. Lots of spinning down warm, dark tunnels to the sound of celestial music; lots of trips along country lanes lined with hedges, towards the light of a welcoming cottage at the end of the road; lots of tumbling down Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit holes, but without the damaging effects of gravity.

True, Dr Maurice S Rawlings Jr, MD, heart surgeon in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and author of To Hell and Back, did have patients who reported very nasty NDEs after they came back on his operating table. Booming noises; licking flames and all that Mephistophelian stuff. But perhaps that tells us more about the challenges of living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, than about the metaphysics of life after death.

Predictably, the amazingly consistent, remarkably heaven-like experiences recounted by the majority of NDE-ers (yes, that really is what the experts call them) have been summarily dismissed by materialist sceptics – like me. Of course the brain does funny things when it’s running out of oxygen. The odd perceptions are just the consequences of confused activity in the temporal lobes.

But NDEs have taken on a new cloak of respectability with a book by a Harvard doctor. Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, will make your toes wiggle or curl, depending on your prejudices. What’s special about his account of being dead is that he’s a neurosurgeon. At least that’s what the publicity is telling us. It’s a cover story in Newsweek magazine, with a screaming headline: “Heaven is Real: a doctor’s account of the afterlife”.

Just as you’d expect from a doctor, his account is precise and detailed. In the autumn of 2008, he contracted a very rare bacterial meningitis that he says made his brain “shut down” and put his “higher-order brain functions totally offline”. The soup-like state of Dr Alexander’s brain was, he writes, “documented by CT scans” (although CT scans don’t say anything about the activity of the brain) and “neurological examinations”.

Although the neurons of his cortex were “stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria”, his conscious self journeyed into another world. There was wonderful music and light. There were clouds, “big, puffy, pink-white ones that showed up sharply against the deep blue-black sky”. And there were angels (well, perhaps birds): “flocks of transparent, shimmering beings”.

But then it gets really weird. It turns out that he wasn’t alone. “For most of my journey, someone was with me. A woman.” She had a lovely face and golden brown tresses, and she was dressed appropriately for a Cecil B DeMille movie, in peasant costume, in subtle shades of “powder blue, indigo, and pastel orange-peach”. She was quite a stunner. She looked at Dr Alexander “with a look that, if you saw it for five seconds, would make your whole life up to that point worth living, no matter what had happened in it so far”. It was a look “beyond all the different compartments of love we have down here on earth”.

Well, many of us, after a couple of pints in the pub with our chums, might say that we’ve had that kind of experience; but not with a woman flying on a butterfly wing, as Dr Alexander’s companion was. Although he “still had little language function” he was able to chat with the peasant lady, asking (understandably) where he was and why he was there. He was overwhelmed by the answers, which “came instantly in an explosion of light, colour, love, and beauty that blew through me like a crashing wave”.

After the clouds and the angels and the peasant lady, Dr Alexander went on to a “pitch-black” void, “brimming with light” from a “brilliant orb” that acted as an interpreter, explaining that the “universe itself was like a giant cosmic womb”.

You might have sensed a subtle hint of scepticism in my account. As Eben Alexander says, he considers himself a faithful Christian, and it’s therefore not surprising that he interpreted the chaos in his brain when he was almost dying in terms of his model of the afterlife.

His, and the multitude of other memories reported by people who have been close to death, have to be seen first through the prism of hard science. The crucial question is not whether such astounding experiences should lead us to abandon materialist accounts of brain function, but whether materialist accounts can possibly explain them.

Dr Peter Fenwick, senior lecturer at King’s College, London, consultant at the Institute of Psychiatry, and president of the British branch of The International Association for Near Death Studies, acknowledges that there are deep problems in interpreting first-person memories of experiences that are supposed to have happened when the brain was out of action. Since the lucky survivor can only tell you about them after the event, how can we be sure that these things were perceived and felt at the time that their brains were messed up, rather than being invented afterwards?

The same problem applies to dreams, indeed to any memory. Memory is notoriously fallible, and is treacherously easily misled by expectation. The cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has done brilliant experiments showing how the recall of real experiences can be transformed by what people think should have happened, and by what they are told might have happened.

In 150 years the science of perception has taught us that the way we appreciate the world around us is as much dependent on our expectations, our experiences, our inferences, as it is on the hard evidence of images on our retinas or vibrations in our ears. Remember the occasions when you have seen a face in the flickering flames of a fire, or been certain that you saw a person in the distance as you walked along at night – only to discover that the face in the fire disappears with the next burst of flame and the person in the dark is just a letterbox.

Is it not significant that the NDEs of Christians are full of Biblical metaphor? Either this confirms the correctness of their particular faith or it says that NDEs, like normal perception and memory, are redolent of culture, personal prejudice and past experience. Perhaps if Eben Alexander were a Muslim, there would have been the mythical 72 virgins on the butterfly wing, rather than the bucolic one. If he were a Buddhist he would be called a de-lok, a person who has seemingly died, but who travels into bardo – an afterlife state – guided by a Buddhist deity.

What Dr Alexander and his PR people claim is that his description of the afterlife is more authentic because he is a neurosurgeon. But when there is no evidence except the word of the beholder, a scientist’s accounts are no more reliable than those of anyone else. Would we literally believe the contents of a scientist’s dream because he or she has a PhD? If a scientist sees the lines of a visual illusion as wonky, should we believe that they really are wonky?

Science has progressed by challenge and disagreement. But what is needed to consider seriously the kinds of claims made by Dr Alexander is not flowery prose and hyperbolic headlines. It’s hard evidence.

But I am trying (not very convincingly, I know) to keep an open mind. I remember the story of the nobleman who asked the Zen Master Hakuin, “What happens to the enlightened man at death?”
“Why ask me?” said Hakuin.
“Because you’re a Zen master.”
“Yes, but not a dead one.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9598 ... ngels.html
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
I don't buy into Blakemore's critique:
You might have sensed a subtle hint of scepticism in my account. As Eben Alexander says, he considers himself a faithful Christian, and it’s therefore not surprising that he interpreted the chaos in his brain when he was almost dying in terms of his model of the afterlife.
Christianity actually has very little to say about the after-life. I don't remember any descriptions of clouds, “big, puffy, pink-white ones that showed up sharply against the deep blue-black sky” in the Bible, for example!
 

Fluttermoth

Mrs Treguard
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
842
Likes
682
Points
109
I was just reading this paragraph;

"They are nearly always pleasant and deeply reassuring in a saccharin-soaked way. Lots of spinning down warm, dark tunnels to the sound of celestial music; lots of trips along country lanes lined with hedges, towards the light of a welcoming cottage at the end of the road; lots of tumbling down Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit holes, but without the damaging effects of gravity"

when the Largo from Dvorak's New world Symphony came up on my playlist.

Which was nice!
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
12,488
Likes
14,070
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
rynner2 said:
... Christianity actually has very little to say about the after-life. I don't remember any descriptions of clouds, “big, puffy, pink-white ones that showed up sharply against the deep blue-black sky” in the Bible, for example!
Formal Christian _doctrine_ (including the Bible) has little to say about the afterlife. On this much I agree ...

However, Christian _culture_ - particularly in popularized form - has developed elaborate, persistent, and widely-disseminated descriptions for afterlife features and scenarios that are nowhere supported within doctrine or the Bible.

By Alexander's own account, he is not a Biblical scholar or theologian. He is a lay Christian whose participation in the church was casual (at best) by the time of his medical crisis. The fact that the details of his perceived experience don't directly map into the Bible doesn't mean his description of that experience isn't 'Christianized' - it only means it's Christianized on the basis of popularized cultural elements rather than formal / scholarly ones.

He'd undoubtedly been exposed to such popular characterizations of afterlife scenarios all his life - in everything from cartoons to conversational metaphors to at least some reports of purported NDE's with which he seems to indicate he was already familiar by the time of his own experience.

IMHO his report would have been more compelling if he'd framed it as a scrupulous account of the experiences per se rather than a sales-job for validating the cultural elements his interpretation of those experiences pretty clearly adopted. His account repeatedly alludes to his profession (neurosurgeon) as if this somehow materially validates his report. His conclusion (which is foreshadowed from the beginning ...) is not that of a neurosurgeon who happens to have a Christian background in an markedly-Christianized cultural milieu - it's that of a recently upgraded Christian believer who happens to be a neurosurgeon. This is nowhere more evident than in his choice of book title - _Proof of Heaven_.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
12,488
Likes
14,070
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
And, while I'm at it, a couple of other points ...

(1) Alexander is a neurosurgeon. He works on brains. He's been professionally trained to open a skull, mess with the grey matter, and get out again without necessarily killing the patient.

This doesn't mean he's an expert in (e.g.) neural function, mind / consciousness studies, cognition, psychology, etc., etc. - any more than being an experienced auto mechanic automatically qualifies one as an expert in theoretical physics or rally driving.

(2) Alexander's account relies on his claim his brain (specifically the cortex) was 'dead' ('inactive', whatever ...). There's nothing in his _Newsweek_ article that specifies the basis for this claim. He mentions scans / images seemingly indicative of physical degradation in the brain mass, but nothing about data indicative of brain function per se. He doesn't even claim he'd been evaluated as clinically 'brain dead'.
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
Blakemore also rolls out this old chestnut:
"Of course the brain does funny things when it’s running out of oxygen."

Now a lot of research has been done into anoxia (because of its importance to pilots, etc), but one thing the brain does not appear to do under these conditions is create visions of an afterlife.

(I don't have time now to look for references, but this might have already been mentioned on this thread.)
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,932
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
Anoxia is discussed in this long post:
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 87#1207687
British psychologist Susan Blackmore has propounded the “dying brain” hypothesis: that a lack of oxygen (or anoxia) during the dying process might induce abnormal firing of neurons in brain areas responsible for vision, and that such an abnormal firing would lead to the illusion of seeing a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Would it? Van Lommel and colleagues objected that if anoxia plays a central role in the production of NDEs, most cardiac arrest patients would report an NDE. Studies show that this is clearly not the case. Another problem with this view is that reports of a tunnel are absent from several accounts of NDErs. As pointed out by renowned NDE researcher Sam Parnia, some individuals have reported an NDE when they had not been terminally ill and so would have had normal levels of oxygen in their brains.

Parnia raises another problem: When oxygen levels decrease markedly, patients whose lungs or hearts do not work properly experience an “acute confusional state,” during which they are highly confused and agitated and have little or no memory recall. In stark contrast, during NDEs people experience lucid consciousness, well-structured thought processes, and clear reasoning. They also have an excellent memory of the NDE, which usually stays with them for several decades. In other respects, Parnia argues that if this hypothesis is correct, then the illusion of seeing a light and tunnel would progressively develop as the patient’s blood oxygen level drops. Medical observations, however, indicate that patients with low oxygen levels do not report seeing a light, a tunnel, or any of the common features of an NDE we discussed earlier.
 
Top