Cumberland Times-News

Z_CNHI News Service

August 14, 2013

Surge of brain activity may explain near-death experience, study says

WASHINGTON — You feel yourself float up and out of your physical body. You glide toward the entrance of a tunnel, and a searing bright light envelops your field of vision.

Rather than an ascent into the afterlife, a new study says these features of a near-death experience may just be a bunch of neurons in your brain going nuts.

"A lot of people believed that what they saw was heaven," said lead researcher and neurologist Jimo Borjigin. "Science hadn't given them a convincing alternative."

Scientists from the University of Michigan recorded electroencephalogram (EEG) signals in nine anesthetized rats after inducing cardiac arrest. Within the first 30 seconds after the heart had stopped, all the mammals displayed a surge of brain activity that had features associated with consciousness and visual activation. The burst of electrical activity even exceeded levels during a normal, awake state.

In other words, they may have been having the rodent version of a near-death experience.

"On a fundamental level, this study makes us think about the neurobiology of the dying brain," said senior author and anesthesiologist George Mashour. It was published Monday online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Near-death experiences have been reported by many who have faced death, worldwide and across cultures. About 20 percent of cardiac arrest survivors report visions during clinical death, with features such as a bright light, life playback or an out-of-body feeling.

"There's hundreds of thousands of people reporting these [near-death] experiences," said Borjigin. "If that experience comes from the brain, there has to be a fingerprint of that."

An unanswered question from a previous experiment bothered her. In 2007, Borjigin had been monitoring neurotransmitter secretion in rats when, in the middle of the night, two of the animals unexpectedly died. Upon reviewing the overnight data, she saw several unknown peaks near the time of death.

Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Basketball stars may linger on campus a while longer

    The NBA seems serious about raising its minimum age, which could signal the end of the one-and-done era in college basketball.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads