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New Book: 'Brain Wars' On NDEs

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      By Mario Beauregard
      April 21, 2012


      Original Link


      /This article was adapted from the new book"The Brain Wars: The
      Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will
      Change the Way We Live Our Lives"
      <http://astore.amazon.com/newheavenneweart/detail/0062071564>by Mario


      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

      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

      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

      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
      veridical 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.


      /Mario Beauregard is associate research professor at the Departments of
      Psychology and Radiology and the Neuroscience Research Center at the
      University of Montreal. He is the coauthor of "The Spiritual Brain" and
      more than one hundred publications in neuroscience, psychology and


      *Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and
      the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives
      By Mario Beauregard

      *Amazon Description*

      /Is the brain "a computer made of meat," and human consciousness a
      simple product of electrical impulses? The idea that matter is all that
      exists has dominated science since the late nineteenth century and led
      to the long-standing scientific and popular understanding of the brain
      as simply a collection of neurons and neural activity. But for acclaimed
      neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, Ph.D., along with a rising number of
      colleagues and others, this materialist-based view clashes with what we
      feel and experience every day./

      /In Brain Wars, Dr. Beauregard delivers a paradigm-shifting examination
      of the role of the brain and mind. Filled with engaging, surprising, and
      cutting-edge scientific accounts, this eye-opening book makes the
      increasingly indisputable case that our immaterial minds influence what
      happens in our brains, our bodies, and even beyond our bodies. Examining
      the hard science behind "unexplained" phenomena such as the placebo
      effect, self-healing, brain control, meditation, hypnosis, and
      near-death and mystical experiences, Dr. Beauregard reveals the mind's
      capabilities and explores new answers to age-old mind-body questions./

      /Radically shifting our comprehension of the role of consciousness in
      the universe, Brain Wars forces us to consider the immense untapped
      power of the mind and explore the profound social, moral, and spiritual
      implications that this new understanding holds for our future./


      *Editorial Reviews*

      /"Brain Wars explains why the prevailing brain-mind paradigm is falling
      apart and why we are increasingly being forced to reconsider the nature
      of consciousness. The consequences of this paradigm shift are profound,
      and Mario Beauregard does a magnificent job in explaining why."/

      -- Dean Radin, PhDCo-Editor-in-Chief, Explore: The Journal of Science
      and Healing Senior Scientist Institute of Noetic Sciences


      /"Mario Beauregard shows convincingly that the materialistic philosophy
      of the 19th century is an impoverished framework incompatible with
      contemporary science, from physics to psychology. The concepts he
      develops in Brain Wars are required reading for scientific literacy in
      today's world."/

      -- Bruce Greyson, M.D. Research psychiatrist, University of Virginia.
      Co-author of Irreducible Mind


      /"In this ground-breaking work, neuroscientist Mario Beauregard cites a
      range of scientific studies challenging many widely held materialistic
      assumptions about the relation between the mind and brain."/

      -- B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D.President, Santa Barbara Institute for
      Consciousness Studies


      /"The assumption that the brain makes consciousness, like the liver
      makes bile, and that human consciousness is confined to the brain and
      body, will not endure because it is unscientific, and cannot account for
      how consciousness manifests in the world. In this important book, Dr.
      Mario Beauregard shows why."/

      -- Larry Dossey, MDAuthor of Reinventing Medicine and The Power of


      /"Dr. Beauregard describes that our mind/consciousness has a fundamental
      and irreducible nature, and that it sometimes can be experienced
      independently from the body because it is not limited to our brain.
      Brain Wars clearly announces the end of physicalism, reductionism,
      materialism and objectivism in science."/

      -- Pim van Lommel, cardiologist, author of Consciousness beyond Life



      .Pulse on Near-Death Experiences <http://www.nhne-pulse.org/>


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