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Near-death experience 'all in the mind'

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by Egyptian Doctor, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

    Mar 21, 2011
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    Near-death experiences are simply
    "manifestations of normal brain functions gone awry", researchers say.

    Psychologists from Edinburgh University and the Medical Research Council in
    Cambridge reviewed existing research.

    They say phenomena such as out-of-body experiences or encounters with dead
    relatives are tricks of the mind rather than a glimpse of the afterlife.

    One of the researchers, Dr Caroline Watt, said: "Our brains are very good at
    fooling us."

    The researchers say that many common near-death experiences could be caused
    by the brain's attempt to make sense of unusual sensations and perceptions
    occurring during a traumatic event.

    Dr Watt, of the University of Edinburgh, said: "Some of the studies we
    examined show that many of the people experiencing a near-death experience were
    not actually in danger of dying, although most thought they were.

    "The scientific evidence suggests that all aspects of the near-death
    experience have a biological basis."
    Bliss and
    One of the most frequently reported features of near-death experiences is an
    awareness of being dead - but the researchers say these feelings are not limited
    to near-death experiences.

    “Start Quote

    Taken together, the scientific experience suggests that all
    aspects of near-death experience have a neuro-physiological or psychological
    End Quote Researchers

    There is a condition called "Cotard" - or "walking
    corpse" syndrome, where a person believes they are dead. It has been seen
    following trauma and during the advanced stages of typhoid and multiple

    Out-of-body experiences, where people feel they are floating above
    themselves, are also commonly reported.

    But Swiss researchers found such experiences could be artificially induced by
    stimulating the right temporoparietal junction in the brain that plays a role in
    perception and awareness.

    The "tunnel of light" sensation reported by those who believe they are having
    a near-death experience can also be artificially induced.

    Pilots flying at G-force can sometimes experience "hypertensive syncope"
    which causes tunnel-like peripheral or even central visual loss for up to eight

    And a US study suggested the light at the end of the tunnel can be explained
    by poor blood and oxygen supply to the eye.

    The feelings of bliss and euphoria, meanwhile, can be recreated with drugs
    such as ketamine and amphetamine.

    The paper also suggests the action of noradrenaline, a hormone released by
    the mid-brain, can evoke positive emotions, hallucinations and other features of
    the near-death experience.

    Writing in the journal Trends in Cognitive Science, the researchers say: "Taken together, the scientific experience suggests that all aspects of near-death experience have a neuro-physiological or psychological basis."

    Dr Sam Parnia, director of resuscitation research at the State University of
    New York and author of What Happens When We Die said: "Every experience, whether
    near-death or otherwise such as depression, happiness and love is mediated by
    the brain.

    "In fact many experiences share the same brain regions, and so it is not
    unusual to be able to reproduce them.

    "Discovering those areas or reproducing them, doesn't imply the experience is
    not real. By the same token, we wouldn't say love, happiness and depression are
    not real.

    "Furthermore many people accurately report "seeing" events taking place at a
    time when the brain doesn't function (such as during cardiac arrest). These
    cannot be explained by brain changes, since the brain had shut down and

    "While seeming real to those who experience them, near death experiences
    provide a glimpse of what it is like to die for the rest of us".

    [Broken External Image]:

    Source : BBC News - Near-death experience 'all in the mind'

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    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011

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