July 5, 2022

Near death experiences: spiritual or neurological?

Scientists are moving closer to a naturalistic account of near-death experiences. Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that heightened brain activity can take place even after death.

Scientists are moving closer to a naturalistic account of near-death experiences. Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that heightened brain activity can take place even after death.

The research — published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences — involved using electroencephalography to monitor the brain activity of nine rats undergoing induced cardiac arrest. Researchers observed a widespread surge in transient brain activity just 30 seconds after the arrest — activity associated with information processing was ten times higher, and sensory-processing activity five times higher. Rats subjected to asphyxiation showed almost identical brain patterns. The researchers described the brain-state of the rats as one of “heightened consciousness” — akin to the experience of many patients who have experienced medical death and been revived.  According to co-author George Mashour, the results suggest “that the brain is capable of well-organized electrical activity during the early stage of clinical death.”

Research with similar findings was published by neuroscientists from the University of Kentucky in 2006. 

Xavier Symons
Creative commons
end of life
near death experiences