16309Near Death Experiences May Have Biological Explanation, Say Scientists
- Sep 12, 2008For centuries people have been talking
about near-death experiences, where the
patient has an out-of-body experience and
remembers seeing a bright light and feels
a great sense of peace. We have linked this
experience with knocking on the doors of
heaven, to many other spiritual explanations.
According to a new study, there might be a
biological explanation for this.
According to a team of researchers from University
of Kentucky, while a person is undergoing a
near death experience the same parts of his/her
brain are activated as the brain of a person
who is having a dream. The scientists compared
110 people, half had never had a near death
experience, while the other half had.
They found that the people who had had a near
death experience had less clearly separated
boundaries between periods of sleep and wakefulness.
The near death experience people reported looking
down at themselves in the operating theatre or
being bathed in a bright, white light. When a
person is in a REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep
stage, similar sensations also happen.
You can read about this study in the journal Neurology.
The majority of people with near death experiences
also experience REM while they are awake (called
REM Instrusion), say the researchers. Less than 25%
of those who have never had a near death experience
ever experience REM stage while they are awake.
REM intrusion may mean you wake up and cannot move
your limbs, or any part of your body, your muscles
may feel incredibly weak, or you hear sounds that
other people cannot hear. It is a paradoxical state
of being in a dream stage while you are awake.
The scientists say that near death experiences are
caused by the same parts of the brain being
activated as they are during REM.
The researchers say they cannot rule out a spiritual
explanation for a near death experience. They say
that, as scientists, their job is to find out what
is going on physically. It is not their job to
find out why.
Just like dreams can seem really real, so can near
death experiences, say the researchers.
Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today
Copyright: Medical News Today
Thanks to Chriatian for permission to republish this article.
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