The Scientific Cause of Near-Death Experiences

October 15, 2012

Science

tunnel-light-flickr

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. Image: Neil T/Flickr

Near-death experiences that have been widely reported by patients now have a scientific explanation. This phenomenon is thought to be caused by the abnormal functioning of dopamine and oxygen flow.

The scientists published their findings in the journal Trends of Cognitive Sciences. Approximately 3% of the US population reports to have had a near-death experience, and they have been widely reported since ancient Greece. One study reported that many of people experiencing near-death experiences weren’t actually in danger of dying, though most thought they were.

near-death-tunnel

This feeling is also common in patients with Cotard or walking corpse syndrome. They hold the delusional belief that they are deceased, and this occurs generally following trauma, such as the advanced stages of typhoid or multiple sclerosis.

The use of a number of medicinal or recreational drugs can often mirror the euphoria felt in near-death experiences, such as ketamine. All of the features of near-death experiences have some basis in normal brain function that has gone awry.

There is a problem with being able to analyze these near-death experiences experimentally instead of anecdotally but there is hope using cognitive neuroscience. Researchers might be able to duplicate these sensations by stimulating brain funciton in the lab, without putting anyone’s life in danger.

[via Scientific American]

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15 Responses to “The Scientific Cause of Near-Death Experiences”

  1. Kenny Says:

    OH RIGHT!!! Like the many people who were clinically dead over 30 minutes and came back!! Missing there arm and leg and had already bled to death.. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.. they weren’t REALLY in danger of death! More stupid science to show science from Darwidiots is just plain! DOOPID!

    Reply

    • Manny Says:

      Each perception has a chemical reaction as phisical explanation, but our scientists cant make it to some other reason than a merely physical one.

      Reply

    • Katie Says:

      Kenny.. that is such a scramble.. but “came back …. and already bled to death”.
      It seems in that instance if there was a logical explanation, hypoxia.. lack of oxygen to the brain, coz the person had bled to death.

      Reply

    • John Says:

      Kenny, you were going to use “their” instead of “there” I like your new word “Doopid”

      Reply

    • Mark Says:

      The only Doopid thing that I see here is you. You’re too lazy to go pick up a science book and learn from it, but you’ll chalk it up to magic as a valid explanation for something that has a naturalistic explanation that we haven’t completely figured out yet. The Secular Web/infidels.org has a very lengthy article explaining and debunking Near Death Experience. Go read it moron.

      Reply

    • KennyYouSlurpSemen Says:

      Funny how Religotards dedicate their whole life to the most disgusting scam ever devised preach how things magically happen,
      yet somehow can still say darwidiots.
      “stupid you are, breed you should not.”

      Reply

  2. Manny Says:

    And how do your scientists explain out of body experiences, which are experimentally proven, where some person can deceive actions in a place hey werent apparent, while their bodies lay asleep, and in watch? Even some of my friends experience such things…

    Reply

    • Katie Says:

      Manny.. imagination explains it all.. havent you dreamed, and it has been an out of body experience.
      I have dreamed I saw myself fly and walk on water.. coz I dreamed it, doesnt make it true, but I recall the dream vividly. I have also dreamed experiencing myself flying and walking on water..

      Reply

    • Mark Says:

      There is NO scientific evidence proving out of body experience. Cite your peer reviewed papers plz? I won’t be holding my breath, even if I could hold it for years.

      Reply

  3. Shawn Says:

    The replies of believers in the supernatural are all mostly the same. They remain ignorant, reject science, and make statements to comfort their own percieved knowledge of the truth. The white light is chemistry.

    You can have an out of body experience by experiencing spatial dissonance in your brain or by playing a video game in 3rd person. These are illusions, not where you actually are.

    Reply

    • Manny Says:

      Interesting that you think only believers in the supernatural are believers. You want to think that out of body and near death experiences are chemistry. And if anyone claims something else, you call the person a believer, and believing has a negative aftertaste in our society. But the believe in science is also a believe, which is justified by a prove. But what is proven here? This is a chemical arrangement which is being looked at; sorry, mnot a native speaker

      Reply

  4. Madanagopal.V.C. Says:

    Once I hit the top of my head against a low ceiling I heard a clear ringing sound of Bell in loud tone. Again another time when I fell back from a chair and hit at the back of my head resulting in swooning briefly, I vividly remember a bright green light going on a circle till I lost my consciousness. This is because when I hit my head the region of the brain responsible for audition was perturbed and it interpreted the electric jolt of neurons as pure sound. In the other case the backside region of the brain where optic nerve`s electrical responses are processed, the same disturbances are revealed as optical phenomena. In both the cases there were no bell ringing or light seen by me.When I come back from the brief trauma, I clearly remember them. At a very young age when the chloroform was administered to me for a minor surgery, I could vividly recall green light drawing towards it to the tunnel when I just lost my senses. Why I am adducing these anecdotes because I want to substantiate that all of them are due to brain chemistry without any hallucinations. These near death experience also brought back the subjects back to life, coupled with hallucinations they were undergoing under the trauma they suffered. Why don`t we therefore agree with scientists the brain chemistry explained by them without assigning any metaphysical reasons for them ? Thank YOu.

    Reply

  5. Bidur parajuli Says:

    I don’t believe in such things.it’s just a hallucination

    Reply

  6. Bidur parajuli Says:

    Is it hallucinations or real?is there any super natural power?i am lil bit confused.

    Reply

  7. jody Says:

    I have been dead for over 10 minutes and went into a toradial vortex (tunnel of light) permeated with love and part of the omnipresent consciousness. I even witnessed love creating life. I have done astral travel many times have been to different realms. I told a person that I did business with that I had dreamt of him twice. I said there was four cargo containers on a dirt lot and drew a picture. he stepped back holding his chest saying that I was doing our body travel and that he has four cargo containers on a dirt lot positioned that way. I could go on and on about transcending time and space and other amazing things.

    Reply

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