Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim?

  • #26
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I suggest people here read the previous topic, it contains an abundance of scientific sources on the subject:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=479733

Heres a bit about NDEs and oxygen deprivation of the brain:
Thanks for the link. I'm glad some consider such anecdotal data sufficiently serious to attempt to construct hypotheses, such as oxygen deprivation, which may be suitable for some type of controlled testing.
 
  • #27
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No matter what anyone says, the stories of clinically dead people being able to see what's going on around them is a trip.

And personally i believe most of these accounts.
 
  • #28
Evo
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Thanks for the link. I'm glad some consider such anecdotal data sufficiently serious to attempt to construct hypotheses, such as oxygen deprivation, which may be suitable for some type of controlled testing.
Yes, but realize that some people here don't understand science.
 
  • #29
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This whole "anecdotes are meaningless in science" was settled in the previous topic (see the example of a woman with epilepsy who had her brain stimulated and experienced an OBE) and also in this topic (someone mentioned synesthesia). To find the relation between activity of the brain and cognitive abilities and experiences, anecdotes are often very useful.

Testing of the OBE part of NDEs is also mentioned in the previous topic:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=3185624&postcount=73
 
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  • #30
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This whole "anecdotes are meaningless in science" was settled in the previous topic (see the example of a woman with epilepsy who had her brain stimulated and experienced an OBE) and also in this topic (someone mentioned synesthesia). To find the relation between activity of the brain and cognitive abilities and experiences, anecdotes are often very useful.

Testing of the OBE part of NDEs is also mentioned in the previous topic:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=3185624&postcount=73
Can you elaborate on the person with epilepsy having an OBE after having her brain stimulated?
 
  • #33


Are they able to perceive physical reality from some sort of lateral metaphysical standpoint?
It is unclear to me why this alleged patient and nurse would fabricate such a story; there is no monetary incentive, fame incentive - the man, if the story is true, didn't care at all that much about its implications. It seems highly unlikely that this was fabricated as it was published by what popular opinion has dictated as a heavily credible source.

The point being: if what this study says is true, then there are profound implications regarding the mutual compatibility of perceptual reality and 'metaphysical' reality. And I see no reason for disinformation.


Entirely separate, but am I correct I'm deducing that, generally speaking, nobody seems to be interested pursuing a complete understanding of the dream-state? That would be amazing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_paralysis

I feel that this explains most NDE's. The visual, tactile, and auditory stimuli are sometimes imperceptible from reality. I know, I've experienced this multiple times.
 
  • #34


Well infact these phenomenons have been well investigated...
they can be explained by science,nothing strange.
 
  • #35
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I've done reading on this topic for about a year, a few years ago. Forgot most of the papers that I read. I recall the most interesting result from different studies being the claimed veridicality of NDEs.. Some cases seemed quite remarkable. Unfortunately I don't remember many references as it was a very long time ago. One that I do remember is Sartori's study and the purported veridicality whilst the patient was on the worst level of the Glasgow Coma Scale and events recounted correctly while he was in the "coma", albeit there were minor errors in the patient's account (although I think they were trivial in that a recounting of any memory is somewhat like this, perhaps especially when the brain has just been fckd up).

I haven't read Raymond Moody's new book, where he claims that patients have shared death experiences where they all report sharing the same NDE. Knowing his writing style I never bothered buying it because you have no idea whether or not he's lying, the individuals involved are lying, or any other set of explanations.

I stopped researching NDEs when I read Keith Augustine's piece, basically a compilation of all NDEs that he'd read where there was absurd visuals (flying over medieval castles with birds, etc), false predictions, and NDEs with people that were still alive. Of course, believers have the ability to rationalize all this in their various afterlife/soul paradigms.

Interesting stuff.. Excited to see the results of AWARE, although in my correspondence with Sartori approximately 9 months ago AWARE hadn't produced a "hit" yet.
 
  • #36
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I've come across a lot of religious claims regarding NDE, and how it's 'spiritual' in nature. I don't buy that bullcrap of course. There are also plenty of fraudulent claims that are allegedly scientific, but upon investigation are found to be fake.

NDEs are possibly misinterpreted notions of explainable psychological phenomena. I'm no expert on the subject, but that's my take on it.
 
  • #37
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I simply do not understand why people would be so dismissive towards a psychic phenomena that is by no means outlandish or impossible. Perhaps it is true that the majority of people who experience the phenomena of "NDE's" interpret it as a confirmation of the divine and so the whole phenomena is tangled in a mess of supernatural beliefs and concrete experiences. This, however, says nothing about the existence of the experience, humans routinely fabricate causes for phenomena and it would be important not to dismiss the experience simply because people have conflated its abnormality with the supernatural.

It is quite possible that oxygen deprivation is one way the mind finds itself in such a state, but there are a number of psychic phenomena which seem to operate in the absence of feedback stimuli from the body and this could be a key.

It is known that the mind operates in terms of concepts and abstractions for experiences, it would seem that in the absence of sensory feedback from the body to ground the combination of possible memories and concepts certain scenarios lacking a degree of "reality" could arise.

So we could study NDE's not in terms of "NDE=oxygen deprivation" for this would be insufficient as an explanation of how the experience itself is produced. Why is it that oxygen deprivation does it? What does oxygen deprivation do to overall brain function? Could a similar state be produced in another manner? In other words, how is it that the absence of oxygen gives rise to a situation where these types of mental states arise?

There are many "altered states of consciousness" that exist, and the nature of how they come to be and what it may or may not say about brain function is something which shouldn't simply be dismissed as "not scientific".
 
  • #38
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...there are a number of psychic phenomena which seem to operate in the absence of feedback stimuli from the body and this could be a key.
Okay, name one.

Difficulty: Don't pick one that relies on cold reading.
 
  • #39
Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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I simply do not understand why people would be so dismissive towards a psychic phenomena that is by no means outlandish or impossible. Perhaps it is true that the majority of people who experience the phenomena of "NDE's" interpret it as a confirmation of the divine and so the whole phenomena is tangled in a mess of supernatural beliefs and concrete experiences. This, however, says nothing about the existence of the experience, humans routinely fabricate causes for phenomena and it would be important not to dismiss the experience simply because people have conflated its abnormality with the supernatural.

It is quite possible that oxygen deprivation is one way the mind finds itself in such a state, but there are a number of psychic phenomena which seem to operate in the absence of feedback stimuli from the body and this could be a key.
The reason these things are not science is because when they have been tested they have been shown to be false. Please provide one example from a good source that a "psychic phenomenon" has occurred.
It is known that the mind operates in terms of concepts and abstractions for experiences, it would seem that in the absence of sensory feedback from the body to ground the combination of possible memories and concepts certain scenarios lacking a degree of "reality" could arise.

So we could study NDE's not in terms of "NDE=oxygen deprivation" for this would be insufficient as an explanation of how the experience itself is produced. Why is it that oxygen deprivation does it? What does oxygen deprivation do to overall brain function? Could a similar state be produced in another manner? In other words, how is it that the absence of oxygen gives rise to a situation where these types of mental states arise?

There are many "altered states of consciousness" that exist, and the nature of how they come to be and what it may or may not say about brain function is something which shouldn't simply be dismissed as "not scientific".
The biological causes of these feelings are researched, that has nothing to do with their validity.
 
  • #40
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On wikipedia there is very interesting information about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience" [Broken]:

A recent study by Dr. Sam Parnia, shows that such patients are "effectively dead", with their brains shut down and no thoughts or feelings possible for the complex brain activity required for dreaming or hallucinating; additionally, to rule out the possibility that near-death experiences resulted from hallucinations after the brain had collapsed through lack of oxygen, Parnia rigorously monitored the concentrations of the vital gas in the patients’ blood, and found that none of those who underwent the experiences had low levels of oxygen.
Dr. Kenneth Ring claims in the book Mindsight: Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind that up to 80% of his sample studied reported some visual awareness during their NDE or out of body experience.
How can a person who is practically brain dead have visual awareness? How can people in these conditions have hallucinations? Until these questions are answered, explanations like lack of oxigen aren't adequate.

My guess is that hallucinating shows a lot of brain activity, and that's the opposite of what happens on NDEs. And my guess is that people with their eyes closed and almost brain dead cannot see... So the obvious conclusion is that there is an out-of-body consciousness.
 
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  • #41
Evo
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On wikipedia there is very interesting information about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience" [Broken]:





How can a person who is practically brain dead have visual awareness? How can people in these conditions have hallucinations? Until these questions are answered, explanations like lack of oxigen aren't adequate.

My guess is that hallucinating shows a lot of brain activity, and that's the opposite of what happens on NDEs. And my guess is that people with their eyes closed and almost brain dead cannot see... So the obvious conclusion is that there is an out-of-body consciousness.
You need to post scientific studies to back up your claims.
 
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  • #42
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How can a person who is practically brain dead have visual awareness? How can people in these conditions have hallucinations? Until these questions are answered, explanations like lack of oxigen aren't adequate.

My guess is that hallucinating shows a lot of brain activity, and that's the opposite of what happens on NDEs. And my guess is that people with their eyes closed and almost brain dead cannot see... So the obvious conclusion is that there is an out-of-body consciousness.
People don't generally realize how large and specialized the activity picked up by an EEG actually is. All kinds of sub-EEG activity can be going on, not picked up by scalp electrodes. Check out the wiki article on EEG's.

Addtionally, even seizure activity, if it is localized and deep enough, won't register on a surface EEG. Check out the abstract of this paper:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3137487

Overall, among the 87 simple partial seizures, only 18 (21%) revealed ictal EEG changes. Thus, a normal EEG is common during simple partial seizures and does not exclude the diagnosis.
People being prepared for brain surgery to remove a seizure focus often will have depth electrodes implanted in their brains (through small holes in the scull) to help pinpoint the troublesome area. These depth electrodes often record many more simple partial seizures than the surface EEG's ever pick up.

As the wiki article points out, to be picked up by a surface EEG, neuronal activity has to involve "thousands or millions" of neurons firing synchronously.

So, a surface EEG is not a reliable indicator of "brain death", or lack of brain activity. The best that could be claimed for a flat surface EEG is that it is an indicator of low level cortical activity.

As for brain activity during hallucinations, google it and see what you come up with. The couple things I recall reading found the frontal lobes of hallucinating schizophrenics to be just about asleep (but that was specific to schizophrenia). Simple partial seizures (hypersynchronous neuronal firing) can cause all kinds of sensory hallucinations, but, as the paper I linked to points out, only about 20% of simple partial seizures are picked up by a surface EEG.

The OBE with autoscopy comes up fairly often as a simple partial seizure symptom. There are also a lot of examples of plain autoscopy (no floating sensation, just the experience of seeing yourself from the outside.) The NDE is more elaborate, but you should be aware that oxygen deprivation is a common cause of seizures, which ties in for obvious reasons. People with a disorder called syncope, for example, will faint, and some of them will proceed to have grand mal seizures from the oxygen deprivation that caused the faint.
 
  • #43
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Thanks for validating some of my reasons for retiring. It's hard to refute lack of logic. Good luck in all of your endeavors. I'm out.
I don't blame you mate.Gee Whizz!
 
  • #44
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People don't generally realize how large and specialized the activity picked up by an EEG actually is. All kinds of sub-EEG activity can be going on, not picked up by scalp electrodes. Check out the wiki article on EEG's.

Addtionally, even seizure activity, if it is localized and deep enough, won't register on a surface EEG. Check out the abstract of this paper:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3137487



People being prepared for brain surgery to remove a seizure focus often will have depth electrodes implanted in their brains (through small holes in the scull) to help pinpoint the troublesome area. These depth electrodes often record many more simple partial seizures than the surface EEG's ever pick up.

As the wiki article points out, to be picked up by a surface EEG, neuronal activity has to involve "thousands or millions" of neurons firing synchronously.

So, a surface EEG is not a reliable indicator of "brain death", or lack of brain activity. The best that could be claimed for a flat surface EEG is that it is an indicator of low level cortical activity.

As for brain activity during hallucinations, google it and see what you come up with. The couple things I recall reading found the frontal lobes of hallucinating schizophrenics to be just about asleep (but that was specific to schizophrenia). Simple partial seizures (hypersynchronous neuronal firing) can cause all kinds of sensory hallucinations, but, as the paper I linked to points out, only about 20% of simple partial seizures are picked up by a surface EEG.

The OBE with autoscopy comes up fairly often as a simple partial seizure symptom. There are also a lot of examples of plain autoscopy (no floating sensation, just the experience of seeing yourself from the outside.) The NDE is more elaborate, but you should be aware that oxygen deprivation is a common cause of seizures, which ties in for obvious reasons. People with a disorder called syncope, for example, will faint, and some of them will proceed to have grand mal seizures from the oxygen deprivation that caused the faint.
The Wiki article you presented was from Neurology. 1988 Sep;38(9):1347-52.
Clinical and electroencephalographic features of simple partial seizures.
Devinsky O, Kelley K, Porter RJ, Theodore WH.
Source: Medical Neurology Branch, NINCDS, Bethesda, MD 20892.

This article I'm going to present isn't on Wikipedia as I write this. Look at the date:

The New York Academy of Sciences:

2011 Oct;1234:19-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06080.x.
Near-death experiences: the experience of the self as real and not as an illusion.
van Lommel P.
Source: Department of Cardiology, Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, the Netherlands.

Abstract

Because the publication of several prospective studies on near-death experience (NDE) in survivors of cardiac arrest have shown strikingly similar results and conclusions, the phenomenon of the NDE can no longer be scientifically ignored. The NDE is an authentic experience that cannot be simply reduced to imagination, fear of death, hallucination, psychosis, the use of drugs, or oxygen deficiency. Patients appear to be permanently changed by an NDE during a cardiac arrest of only some minutes' duration. It is a scientific challenge to discuss new hypotheses that could explain the possibility of a clear and enhanced consciousness--with memories, self-identity, cognition, and emotions--during a period of apparent coma. The current materialistic view of the relationship between consciousness and the brain, as held by most physicians, philosophers, and psychologists, seems to be too restricted for a proper understanding of this phenomenon. There are good reasons to assume that our consciousness, with the continuous experience of self, does not always coincide with the functioning of our brain: enhanced or nonlocal consciousness, with unaltered self-identity, apparently can be experienced independently from the lifeless body. People are convinced that the self they experienced during their NDE is a reality and not an illusion.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21988246
I wish we would stop using Wikipedia! Bye the way, The New York Academy of Sciences is the creme de la creme as far as research goes.:)
 
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  • #45
Evo
Mentor
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The Wiki article you presented was from Neurology. 1988 Sep;38(9):1347-52.
Clinical and electroencephalographic features of simple partial seizures.
Devinsky O, Kelley K, Porter RJ, Theodore WH.
Source: Medical Neurology Branch, NINCDS, Bethesda, MD 20892.

This article I'm going to present isn't on Wikipedia as I write this. Look at the date:

The New York Academy of Sciences:

2011 Oct;1234:19-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06080.x.
Near-death experiences: the experience of the self as real and not as an illusion.
van Lommel P.
Source: Department of Cardiology, Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, the Netherlands.



I wish we would stop using Wikipedia! Bye the way, The New York Academy of Sciences is the creme de la creme as far as research goes.:)
Zooby didn't post a wiki article, he was responding to the wiki article posted by tosh.

The article Zooby linked to was in Neurology
Neurology. 1988 Sep;38(9):1347-52.
Clinical and electroencephalographic features of simple partial seizures.
Devinsky O, Kelley K, Porter RJ, Theodore WH.
SourceMedical Neurology Branch, NINCDS, Bethesda, MD 20892.
 
  • #46
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Zooby didn't post a wiki article, he was responding to the wiki article posted by tosh.

The article Zooby linked to was in Neurology
Well, Zooby gave me the impression that it was from wiki. :biggrin: The main issue is that Zooby should know better than to give us an article from 1988.
 
  • #47
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Well, Zooby gave me the impression that it was from wiki. :biggrin:
I advised Tosh to check out the wiki article on EEG's. That was separate from the article I linked to.
The main issue is that Zooby should know better than to give us an article from 1988.
Why? The "abstract" you linked to makes a bunch of bald assertions. There's no indication it updates anything what I posted has to say about EEG's.
 
  • #48
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I advised Tosh to check out the wiki article on EEG's. That was separate from the article I linked to.

Why? The "abstract" you linked to makes a bunch of bald assertions.
Excuse me. but I don't think the New York Academy of Sciences supports 'a bunch of bald assertions'!
 
  • #49
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Excuse me. but I don't think the New York Academy of Sciences supports 'a bunch of bald assertions'!
Logical fallacy: Appeal to Authority
 
  • #50
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Logical fallacy: Appeal to Authority
Zooby, apparently I support the New York Academy of Sciences and you don't. That's all I need to know. Thank you.
 

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