Afterlives and Brainstorms

Personally, I choose to believe that the white light people sometimes see, visions this patient saw…  they’re all just chemical reactions that take place when the brain shuts down. There’s no conclusive science.  My choice has no practical relevance to my life, I choose the outcome I find more comforting.

That was Greg House, five years ago (:)), and his explanation of near-death experiences. Turns out, five years is long enough for medical science to have progressed a bit further towards a conclusive explanation for near-death experiences. The Sunday Times reports a finding by intensivists at the GWU medical centre that suggests a possible explanation for the phenomenon of near-death experiences that (roughly a fifth of the) people ‘brought back’ from cardiac arrests (and clinical death) report.

Contrary to what popular rhetoric about these matters would have one believe (a la ‘…this person was alive until a second ago, and now he’s dead. Since there’s been no physical change in his body, what caused the death must have been the departure of his soul’), death is not momentary, but is actually an elaborate process in which the body shuts down. The present findings suggest that one step of the process is that just before death, the brain fires up with neural activity, lasting from about 30 seconds to about 3 minutes.  The researchers say that this spike in brain activity immediately before death could explain near-death experiences.

People who have been oxygen-deprived – people who are being asphyxiated, for example – often feel euphoric when their breathing is restored to normal. Brains can also have surges in electrical activity leading to vivid mental sensations if the oxygen-deprivation isn’t corrected at all, evidently. In its last effort (presumably at recovery), the brain fires an electrical impulse that cascades out from one part of the brain to spike activity all over the brain, to levels similar to conscious people.

The study wasn’t extensive, having been conducted on only seven patients, all of whom died. The study isn’t conclusive either, but it is the first attempt at a specific explanation for this phenomenon. I should point out that the reporter who wrote this story is either pandering, or is a credulous cretin: he says this study might be proof that the explanation for near-death experiences is biological rather than metaphysical. You need proof that what happens physically might have a physical explanation?


13 thoughts on “Afterlives and Brainstorms”

  1. There are few things that are ungraspable for the human kind, the research just shows the impulses been triggered during the process of death, still they are not clear about what a dieing person feels or see!

    /me is begin reminded of the apothegm “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching.”

    There are many documentaries about reincarnation from BBC itself. There are few amazing videos where it could be a five old explaining a jet engine or an eight year old doing a heart surgery, i’m not denying the research that has been made about the mere death experience, i have a great respect towards science and also the super natural power, which governs the laws of nature.

  2. ‘There are few things that are ungraspable[sic] for the human mind’ – whether you intended it to mean this or not, this is about the only statement I agree with in your comment.

    1) The people who have had these experiences tell us what they’ve experienced, not the EEG. The present article only makes the point that, since the spike in brain activity happens in concert with near-death experiences, they may be connected.

    2) If the BBC says it, it must be true? I’m sure the BBC runs programs on astrology too. In any case, I’m quite certain that no 8-year-old has performed a heart surgery on anything more complicated than an Operations kit.

  3. There is a 7 Year old surgeon Akrit Jaswal and there are many such cases where rebirth is evident and the extra-ordinary is exhibited, which is unexplainable by Science.

    What people experience is just due to chemical reactions and nothing more is what medical science see, but meta-physics see more!

    If The Sunday Times publishes an article then its true? Just because a research, published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, describing only seven patients death need not be true.

    Mere mortals, what is the significance of our achievements in the cosmic perspective? We who are so proud of ourselves, must question!! Not everything that is found by research is true, if the base is wrong the assumptions and conclusions are indeed wrong.

  4. Not that the ‘7 year old surgeon’ (who, incidentally, was 8 in your last comment. No science can explain that) merited it, but I googled ankit jaiswal. Nope. No heart surgeon by that name. I also googled ‘youngest heart surgeon’. You want to guess how old the youngest heart surgeon is? 31.

    I won’t bother saying anything about the rest of the drivel and the straw-men in your comment (‘metaphysics sees more’, and so forth), except to say that you would benefit from a reading of Isaac Asimov’s essay about the nature of truth and scientific inquiry. But then, if you think the foundations of science are wrong, you probably aren’t going to be moved by an essay by Asimov, are you?

  5. >>>‘There are few things that are ungraspable[sic] for the human mind’ – whether you intended it to mean this or not, this is about the only statement I agree with in your comment.<<<

    I'll take that with the rider under the present state of knowledge. Unknown now, yes, but not forever unknown.

    I remember reading somewhere about Prof. Zimbardo and many others (just a simple Google search will give you dozens of scientific articles) who did some studies on NDE by stimulating the right temporal lobe. Different people saw different things based on their religious experiences.

  6. Thanks for the interesting facts and also for Fiction of reality, yes indeed when String theory develops completely, who knows our understanding about the universe now may be obsolete! When free and if interested, as you googled for youngest heart surgeon, have a look at few videos and few more!

  7. Thanks for the … Fiction of reality

    Creating your own 8 year old (or was it 7? I forget) heart surgeon is so much more convenient than actually bothering to try and find explanations, isn’t it?

    Oh, and I’m absolutely convinced of the existence of the afterlife, and reincarnation, and god because of some YouTube videos that somebody posted. Absolutely.

    (I’m also convinced about the flying spaghetti monster, UFOs, aliens – you know, little blue things with pointy noses and marble eyes, and the yeti, and the loch ness monster, and … but that’s for some other time)

  8. 7 year old was an example, but you neglected the fact about the toddler who could explain fighter jets here it is . No one can change the nature of thinking of anyone and no one can change also, your foundation is of an atheist, so you see the world in that view, no matter what explanations i give that wont change your views, nor should i try changing it!

  9. Your definition of ‘example’ blows, did you know? Also, an eleven year old is a toddler, now? An eleven year old can’t watch some TV show about a fighter pilot? And can’t make up some stuff on his own? If he does one or both of these, that somehow proves the existence of reincarnation? Did you expect anybody to take this for an argument? Or is this perhaps an elaborate Poe? You got me! It’s a Poe, isn’t it?

  10. My definition for ‘example’ blows and when it blows it blows real hard 😛 There are series of such cases which are document by discovery channel and now don’t question the authenticity of discovery channel, if you keep looking at that perspective, everything thing in the media, may it be your news link that started this conversation or may it be other links in the comments all are under the doubt of authenticity.

    You call it Poe or call it whatever you want, you have all the freedom to say what you wish.
    Thought +Feeling => Manifestation.

  11. I question the authenticity of everything until it can be tested and verified independently… Which I guess is kind of a problem for the god squad.

    Why, thank you… I was waiting for permission to say this:

    Pig in poop + lots of bullshit => STILL pig, STILL poop.

  12. Testing and verification is always relative to an individual or a group, yes absolutely question everything is indeed a great challenge for a god squad which can realize the reality and like a healthy mind which can contradict there own pseudo assumptions.

    The last line of your comment is a perfect definition for an Atheist.

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