Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
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14-09-2011, 12:26 AM
Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
After discovering this article in the Scientific American Magazine, I felt the urgency to create a thread about it! This article is relatively short, but it contains powerful information, so beware. There are side-effects to reading this article: it causes individuals to think outside of the imaginary box!

Hope you all enjoyTongue
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Peace of Mind: Near-Death Experiences Now Found to Have Scientific Explanations

Seeing your life pass before you and the light at the end of the tunnel, can be explained by new research on abnormal functioning of dopamine and oxygen flow

By Charles Q. Choi | September 12, 2011 |54

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?"
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14-09-2011, 07:54 AM
 
RE: Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
(14-09-2011 12:26 AM)FreeAtheism Wrote:  There are side-effects to reading this article: it causes individuals to think outside of the imaginary box!

Never!

I will NEVER think outside that box.

....and you can't make me!

Big Grin
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14-09-2011, 08:05 AM
RE: Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
I have read this material before from another source.............sounds pretty logical right.......i suppose in some cases it does.

HOWEVER!!!!!!!!!!!

How do they explain the people who have out of body experiences and can recount things that they have absoloutly no way of knowing???

People who leave the body during operations.......see themselves dying.......watch as people rush around them trying to save them.

Can see things on top of cupboards that they have no logical way of seeing???

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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14-09-2011, 08:14 AM
 
RE: Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
(14-09-2011 08:05 AM)bemore Wrote:  People who leave the body during operations.......see themselves dying.......watch as people rush around them trying to save them.

Can see things on top of cupboards that they have no logical way of seeing???

WARNING -- good-natured teasing follows:

The patient, waking up after the operation -- first thing he says: ""you guys really should clean the top of those cupboards, you wouldn't believe what I saw up there: dead mice and cobwebs and flies -- what kind of a hospital is this?"

Seriously -- my mind is wide open on these claims, awaiting reliable evidence.
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14-09-2011, 08:40 AM
RE: Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
(14-09-2011 08:14 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  The patient, waking up after the operation -- first thing he says: ""you guys really should clean the top of those cupboards, you wouldn't believe what I saw up there: dead mice and cobwebs and flies -- what kind of a hospital is this?"

Ha ha that made me laugh Big Grin

(14-09-2011 08:14 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  Seriously -- my mind is wide open on these claims, awaiting reliable evidence.

Ditto.

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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14-09-2011, 09:09 AM
RE: Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
(14-09-2011 07:54 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  
(14-09-2011 12:26 AM)FreeAtheism Wrote:  There are side-effects to reading this article: it causes individuals to think outside of the imaginary box!

Never!

I will NEVER think outside that box.

....and you can't make me!

Big Grin

Hahahahaha, I will make sure to Never post anything that provokes thought. . . from now on, I will only use the Bible for my logic and reasoning, since it explains everything and we know everything in it is true because God didn't create science. Why trust science? It's not like it took us to the Moon or anything interesting, right?

Hahahaha, your reply made me laugh for a good while

Take care
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14-09-2011, 09:33 AM
 
RE: Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
(14-09-2011 09:09 AM)FreeAtheism Wrote:  Hahahahaha, I will make sure to Never post anything that provokes thought. . . from now on, I will only use the Bible for my logic and reasoning, since it explains everything and we know everything in it is true because God didn't create science. Why trust science? It's not like it took us to the Moon or anything interesting, right?

I hope you know that you were talking to a retired Physicist who LOVES science and HATES everything about religion, especially the bible?

Just checking.

Smile

PS. My post was a joke, I am happy it made you laugh!
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14-09-2011, 02:21 PM
RE: Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
(14-09-2011 09:33 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  
(14-09-2011 09:09 AM)FreeAtheism Wrote:  Hahahahaha, I will make sure to Never post anything that provokes thought. . . from now on, I will only use the Bible for my logic and reasoning, since it explains everything and we know everything in it is true because God didn't create science. Why trust science? It's not like it took us to the Moon or anything interesting, right?

I hope you know that you were talking to a retired Physicist who LOVES science and HATES everything about religion, especially the bible?

Just checking.

Smile

PS. My post was a joke, I am happy it made you laugh!

Hahaha. Yes, I had figured out it was a joke, that's why I replied with a Bible joke because the bible explains nothing.

Physicist- now that's an interesting career. I, personally, couldn't do the math, but I do well in writing and the social sciences. I am a psychology major and I love articles like this that help better understand why humans, by nature, conceive of reality through abstract ideas(False Beliefs).

Take care
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17-09-2011, 03:17 PM
 
RE: Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
(14-09-2011 08:05 AM)bemore Wrote:  I have read this material before from another source.............sounds pretty logical right.......i suppose in some cases it does.

HOWEVER!!!!!!!!!!!

How do they explain the people who have out of body experiences and can recount things that they have absoloutly no way of knowing???

People who leave the body during operations.......see themselves dying.......watch as people rush around them trying to save them.

Can see things on top of cupboards that they have no logical way of seeing???

Or like the people who wake up from comas speaking languages other than the one they were raised with.

Honestly... What?
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17-09-2011, 03:47 PM
 
RE: Scientific explanation for Near Death Experiences
(17-09-2011 03:17 PM)Seno Wrote:  Or like the people who wake up from comas speaking languages other than the one they were raised with.

If only this was a reliable way to learn new languages!

Imagine, I spent years perfecting my English (still not perfect!) and I could have had it at the price of a single near-death experience.

Big Grin
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