Near-death experience gets a natural boost from rat study

An interesting new study shows that brain activity surges beyond normal in the 30-second period after rats’ hearts stopped beating. Scientists measured a sharp increase in high-frequency brainwaves called gamma oscillations that are thought to be related to consciousness possibly linking information from different parts of the brain.

BBC News – Near-death experiences are ‘electrical surge in dying brain’.

A surge of electrical activity in the brain could be responsible for the vivid experiences described by near-death survivors, scientists report.

A study carried out on dying rats found high levels of brainwaves at the point of the animals’ demise.

US researchers said that in humans this could give rise to a heightened state of consciousness.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This is a fascinating finding but raises many questions. Does it happen in humans too? What does it translate to? Why does this happen? We don’t know what the rats perceived while this was happening.

Near Death Experiences have previously been thought to be caused by endorphins, anoxia (oxygen depletion) or hypercarbia (excess carbon dioxide), or temporal lobe stimulation, among other possibilities. One of the possibilities is that there actually is a tunnel and you experience a supernatural event. But that’s not plausible to conclude when we have some natural effects that may be responsible.

In fact, I just wrote about this on Huffington Post, if you care to read some opinion. I don’t find the lack of an afterlife particularly unsettling though some really do. This type of research suggests that our brain holds some fascinating secrets and there is much to learn. And, as we use our technology and a scientific process to inquiry about mysteries, those mysteries are revealed.

The citation for the paper is as follows: “Surge of neurophysiological coherence and connectivity in the dying brain.” By Jimo Borjigin, UnCheol Leed, Tiecheng Liu, Dinesh Pal, Sean Huff, Daniel Klarr, Jennifer Sloboda, Jason Hernandez, Michael M. Wang, and George A. Mashour. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 August 2013.

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  3 comments for “Near-death experience gets a natural boost from rat study

  1. August 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    No one knows when organised shamanistic ritual started. It may have arrived with Cro-Magnons but probably very much earlier with the Neanderthals. A shaman must have come up with the idea of an afterlife and this has been with us since then, possibly for more than 200,000 years. After that long it is not easy to suggest there was an error.

  2. Chris Howard
    August 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    So the study suggests that rats have souls? I’m sure this is how the data will be interpreted by Deepak Chopra and the NDE minions. ;-)

  3. Chris Howard
    August 13, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    Actually, Chopra will call it quantum something-or-another, not a soul. My bad.

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