Other Free Encyclopedias » Psychology Encyclopedia » Psychological Dictionary: Ibn Bajjah (Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn-Yahya ibn-al-Saʼigh, c.1106–38) Biography to Perception: cultural differences

Near-Death Experience

electrical stimulation of the brain oxygen people experiences light

Intense, pleasant, and sometimes profound experiences that people report when they have "come back" from states close to death.

Tales of near-death experiences (NDEs) are not unusual. Out-of-body experiences, the sensation of moving through a tunnel toward a light, the review of the events of one's life, and pleasurable glimpses of other worlds are relatively consistent features of people's "near death" reports. In fact, research suggests that almost one fifth of Americans report having almost died, and a large proportion of them have recounted experiences like the ones mentioned above. The reported events are very vivid, seem completely real, and can sometimes transform people's lives. How to explain these experiences is the subject of debate. Throughout history people have interpreted them as journeys toward the divine. The out-of-body experience was the soul or spirit leaving the body, the tunnel was the passageway, the life review was the time of judgement, and the light at the end of the tunnel was heaven (or the equivalent).

It appears that, rather than any spiritual journey or other world phenomenon, NDEs may be best understood by examining human physiology, neurochemistry, and psychology. At this time, there is strong research evidence to indicate that many of the symptoms of NDEs may be caused by anoxia, or a lack of oxygen to the brain. In the human visual system, for example, neurons (brain cells) deprived of oxygen will start to fire out of control. Since the majority of the cells in our visual cortex (the portion of the brain where visual information is processed) respond to stimulation in the central visual field, the result is a white spot in the center with fewer cells firing out of control in the periphery. As oxygen deprivation continues, the white spot grows and the sensation of moving through a tunnel toward a white light is produced. Similarly, it is possible that the life review process is a result of depriving the temporal lobes of oxygen. When the temporal lobes of the brain, an area largely involved in memory production, are deprived of oxygen, neurotransmitters are released and massive electrical activity ensues. In laboratory research, when people's temporal lobes are stimulated with electrodes, many subjects experience the reliving of memories, out of body experiences, and even the sensation of moving through a tunnel toward a light. Oxygen deprivation can also affect the limbic system, which contains the seat of emotions in the brain. The intensely pleasurable feelings of love and well-being that accompany moving toward the light may therefore be a consequence of increased activity in the limbic system.

According to some people, the similarities among people's accounts of NDEs provide powerful evidence for the existence of an afterlife. These similarities however, can also be interpreted as evidence in support of the involvement of human physiology, neurochemistry, and psychology. The visual cortex, temporal lobes, and limbic system are structurally and functionally common to everyone. Consequently neurological activity associated with stress or oxygen deprivation may be similar across many different individuals.

Timothy Moore

Further Reading

Blackmore, S. "Near-death experiences: In or out of the body?" Skeptical Inquirer, 16, (1991): 34-45.

[back] Nature-Nurture Controversy - GENES AND BEHAVIOR

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

Please be warned. Kevin Williams is an internet spammer who spams that exact post around on hundreds of NDE blogs or forums.

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

Mr.Timothy , science always tries to prove weird things through weird theories.

where's the gravity ? you can't see it, you can't touch it , you can't hear it , yet you feel its power and you know it exists. You would probably understand this phenomenon much better if you willingly tried to astral project yourself.
I do it twice a week , and it's completely real, you can see and hear everything , you can fly without any boundaries, and the most important of all : you can do a test for those who can astral project, put a series of numbers and let them read this sequence, once they are awake, they should successfully tell you the numbers.
this experience took place long time ago in the USA , and the DR said that it's weird, and he has no explanation for this, it may be a coincidence , no , there are no coincidences here , because astral projection is real !

I am wondering why scientists don't try these things themselves.
and I know there's a prize worth 1m$
but do you think we'll be safe if we prove to the world that all these mystical things are real ?

ask the Illuminatis and the Freemasons about the third eye, ask the Hindu Gurus about the third eye, ask the Kabbalists about the third eye.

I hope Science gets out of this rotten box someday, there are many things far away from what we hear and see, oh another thing, what Oxygen are you talking about Dr ? may I know please ?
I can willingly astral project while breathing normally !

can you please tell us why Science proved the remote viewing ?

Vote down Vote up

over 2 years ago

Skeptics and materialists like to dismiss NDEs as being caused by brain anomalies – even though it doesn’t matter WHAT mechanism causes NDEs when determining whether NDEs are real afterlife experiences or not. Nevertheless, brain anomalies have already been ruled out (see A.) Also, the materialists' so-called "CAUSES of NDEs" are actually only the SIDE-EFFECTS of having an NDE.

And if NDEs are nothing more than a final hallucination before total oblivion (as claimed by materialists), then they need to examine ALL the evidence such as:

(1) NDE experiencers can have verified out-of-body perceptions where they see and hear very detailed events and conversations sometimes hundreds of miles away. Google: "veridical near-death" or "George Ritchie".

(2) People born blind (or color blind) can see correctly for the first time in their lives during a NDE. Google: "Vicki Umipeg".

(3) Memories of NDEs are more real than normal memories. Google: " Steven Laureys" near-death.

(4) The level of conscious alertness during NDEs are usually greater than that experienced in everyday life - even though NDEs generally occur when a person is unconscious or clinically dead. Google: "Jeffrey Long" "nine lines of evidence".

(5) A vast number of NDEs occur while the NDE experiencer is under general anesthesia - at a time when any conscious experience should be impossible.

(6) The NDE "life review" provides the NDE experiencer with a perfect playback of real events which previously occurred in their lives - even if the events were forgotten or happened before they were old enough to remember. Google "Jeffrey Long" "nine lines of evidence".

(7) NDE experiencers bring back important scientific discoveries. Google "Mellen-Thomas Benedict" or "Lynnclaire Dennis" or "Ralph Duncan".

(8) NDE experiencers report seeing visions of the future which actually occur as foretold. Google "Ned Dougherty" or "Dannion Brinkley".

(9) Children’s NDEs, including very young children who are too young to have developed concepts of death, religion, or NDEs, are essentially identical to those of older children and adults. Google: children near-death experiences

(10) NDEs are remarkably consistent around the world and across many different religions and cultures. Google: "NDEs of Hindus" (for example).

(11) NDE experiencers encounter people who are virtually always deceased and are usually relatives of the NDE experiencer including relatives who died before the experiencer was even born. Google: "Jeffrey Long" "nine lines of evidence".

(12) It is common for NDE experiencers to have powerful, life-enhancing, and long-lasting major life changes and aftereffects after having an NDE.

(13) NDE experiencers themselves are practically universal in their understanding that their NDE was a real afterlife experience. Google: near-death aftereffects

(14) NDEs are drastically different from hallucinations. Google: "NDEs are not hallucinations".

(15) NDEs have been documented throughout history including ancient times. Google: Plato Er near-death

(16) Here is a YouTube video of a doctor describing a patient who successfully read a 12-digit number while out of their body:

(17) Other research related to veridical (verified) perception in NDEs exists, such as:

a. Veridical out-of-body experiences (Google: "Charles Tart")
b. Veridical deathbed visions (Google: "Carla-Wills Brandon")
c. Veridical dreams (Google: "Claire Sylvia")
d. Veridical after-death communications (Google: "Bill and Judy Guggenheim")
e. Veridical remote viewing (Google: "Joseph McMoneagle")
f. Shared death experiences (Google: "shared death experiences").

You can read more here:

A. Scientific evidence suggestive of an afterlife:

B. Evidence from quantum theory supporting the survival of consciousness after death:

Kevin Williams

Vote down Vote up

12 months ago

thanks for sharing with us that awesome artilcle you have amazing blog