'Near-death experience' explained by carbon dioxide: study

Apr 07, 2010

People who have "near-death experiences," such as flashing lights, feelings of peace and joy and divine encounters before they pull back from the brink may simply have raised levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood, a study suggests.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are reported by between 11 and 23 percent of survivors of heart attacks, according to previous research.

But what causes NDEs is strongly debated. Some pin the mechanisms on physical or psychological reasons, while others see a transcendental force.

Researchers in Slovenia, reporting on Thursday in a peer-reviewed journal, , investigated 52 consecutive cases of heart attacks in three large hospitals.

The patients' average age was 53 years. Forty-two of them were men.

Eleven patients had NDEs, but there was no common link between these cases in terms of age, sex, level of education, religious belief, fear of death, time to recovery or the drugs that were administered to resuscitate them.

Instead, a common association was high levels of CO2 in the blood and, to a lesser degree, of .

Further work is needed to confirm the findings among a larger sample of patients, say the authors, led by Zalika Klemenc-Ketis of the University of Maribor.

Having an NDE can be a life-changing experience, so understanding its causes is important for survivors, they say.

Explore further: Researcher develops, proves effectiveness of new drug for spinal muscular atrophy

More information: The effect of carbon dioxide on near-death experiences in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survivors: a prospective observational study, Zalika Klemenc-Ketis, Janko Kersnik and Stefek Grmec, Critical Care (in press), ccforum.com/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heart attack risk from smoking due to genetics

Dec 19, 2007

Heart attacks among cigarette smokers may have less to do with tobacco than genetics. A common defect in a gene controlling cholesterol metabolism boosts smokers’ risk of an early heart attack, according to a new study ...

Dialysis safe for kidney patients' heart health

Jul 09, 2009

Dialysis treatments do not affect the heart health of kidney disease patients who have had a heart attack, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN ...

Recommended for you

Cellular protein may be key to longevity

15 hours ago

Researchers have found that levels of a regulatory protein called ATF4, and the corresponding levels of the molecules whose expression it controls, are elevated in the livers of mice exposed to multiple interventions ...

Gut bacteria tire out T cells

18 hours ago

Leaky intestines may cripple bacteria-fighting immune cells in patients with a rare hereditary disease, according to a study by researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland. The study, published in The Journal of Experimental Me ...

T-bet tackles hepatitis

18 hours ago

A single protein may tip the balance between ridding the body of a dangerous virus and enduring life-long chronic infection, according to a report appearing in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

User comments : 72

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mininova
3.8 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2010
God works in mysterious ways. Haha just kidding.
It would be interesting to be able to induce a NDE though...
shockr
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2010
Funny how the NDE/OOBE/Lucid Dream/Astral Projection is a symptom of CO2 in the blood.. and not vice versa.

Bloody scientists :P
Simonsez
2.3 / 5 (9) Apr 07, 2010
How very simple biology is! Who knew it was just more AGW carbon dioxide causing all the world's problems and strange psychological experiences.
zevkirsh
3.3 / 5 (6) Apr 07, 2010
everytime i go to the steam bath and steam myself too much, i feel like i'm dizzy and going to pass out. but i don't. when this happens. i close my eyes. and everytime i do, i see a big ball of light in my field of vision that looks a bit tunnelish a bit 3d. seems like a consistent visual field anomoly in my particular experience.
CarolinaScotsman
3.9 / 5 (9) Apr 07, 2010
A few years ago, some researchers "proved" that NDEs were caused by electical stimulation of a primitive part of the brain causing hullicinations. Strange that everyone hullucinates exactly the same thing.
RobertKLR
3.3 / 5 (8) Apr 07, 2010
So, of the all of the parameters to be measured, and I'm sure they measured every single one of them to an exactly precise degree, the CO2 level was the common factor. I'm sure they didn't miss anything.
Klaus
3.8 / 5 (5) Apr 07, 2010
A few years ago, some researchers "proved" that NDEs were caused by electical stimulation of a primitive part of the brain causing hullicinations. Strange that everyone hullucinates exactly the same thing.

There was an interview of a gentleman who wrote a book on the subject, and I cannot for the life of me remember what his name is or the book.

But, during the interview, this question was posed to him about why the tunnel of light, and he said the prevailing theory is that sporadic electric impulses from the brain sometimes travel up the visual nerve and cause a bright flashing effect. They discovered this during a brain-surgery when the patient wasn't asleep.
Ronan
5 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2010
I wonder, has anyone bothered to look at the experiences reported by people who have almost died--but from different causes? Say, comparing someone who was oxygen-deprived for whatever reason with someone else who...um...Hm. ...How many ways are there to kill someone that don't involve a build-up of CO2 as at least one of the side effects?
missionfromGod
2.7 / 5 (15) Apr 07, 2010
I can only relate my NDE. I saw the light, the guide, the life review...that was interesting, but most of all...I saw myself in the emergency room being treated by the very same doctor that actually treated me when i got to the emergency room...I did not know that a carbon dioxide build - up could do all that...let me see into the emergency room visit with the same doctor. I also saw my future life, and what I had to accomplish before my actual checkout time...I am now living the life I saw during my NDE...and yes...I am on a mission from God...
Ishtar
3 / 5 (8) Apr 08, 2010
So does oxygen cause us to fall in love just because we're breathing it in when it happens? Or is the pleasure of music caused by carbon-di-oxide because we're breathing it out as we listen? Transcendence takes place in the universe. The universe is made up of chemicals. We are part of the universe, so chemicals are what we are made of too. Obviously, there are many chemical processes taking place at death ... after all, the body is breaking down. But the fact that those processes are present does not automatically mean that they are causing the transcendent experience. If it was just a chemical reaction, the NDE would take on a different format for each individual person according to their beliefs. But as the report says, those in the study had no common religious belief, yet they all had a similar experience.
SmartK8
3.1 / 5 (10) Apr 08, 2010
Ishtar: On the contrary. If it was "just" the chemical reaction, then all of them would've similar experience (as they do). If it - on the other hand - was dependent on their believes, it would differ (according to their belief). I don't understand how you can come up with opposite result.

missionfromGod: Just take your pills and your mission somewhere else, please.

In my opinion it is a combination of more factors than just CO2, but it seems like a possible culprit. It's a sensitive topic for many transcendence worshipers, so expect anger to rage.
Ishtar
2.5 / 5 (8) Apr 08, 2010
Smartk8, perhaps it would help if I explained that, in my experience, spiritual transcendence is not the same as religion. Spiritual transcendence ends where religion begins. Spiritual transcendence is a practical experience which, when it is absent, becomes ossified into different systems of belief, faith, rules and rituals that make up different religions. But if you go back to the times before the main religions of today, you'll find that the experience of transcendence was common to the shamans of various indigenous tribes throughout the world. One of the roles of the shaman is to act as a pyschopomp, that is to carry the soul of the deceased on to the next world. In order to do this, they journey down that same tunnel without any evident increase in their carbon dioxide levels. I think you should also show respect to those, like "missionfromGod", who have had the NDE experience, otherwise 'anger will rage' as you say, but it will have been caused by your actions.
SmartK8
3.8 / 5 (10) Apr 08, 2010
Ishtar: First of all, I'm member of that branch of a-mountaineers, who don't think that the irrational belief systems deserve respect. As the quote says "Respect is earned, not demanded". I don't think there's a difference between transcendence and religion. If a religious man has such experience, it was a god in which he believes in. If it was a spiritual transcendence believer, it was a proof of oneness with universe. If it was me, it was a temporal lobe epilepsy outbreak. Transcendence and religion (which is IMO parasitizing on transcendence) both came from the same source. It's based on idea, that there MUST be something more to this reality than it seems. Which of course is not needed. All it takes is a changed state of the mind (the root of transcendence), but those are just that, a personally changed brain function, the reality outside is just as it was before.
Ishtar
2.1 / 5 (8) Apr 08, 2010
I'm afraid you're just displaying your ignorance, SmartK8. The experience of transcendence is as real as standing under the sun and experiencing warmth and light. It is not an idea. This transcendence was experienced by man long before modern day religions came along. The experience is repeatable and falsifiable. We know this from three sources: 1.Anthropologists' interviews with shamans worldwide at the end of the 19th century, before the age of mass communications and transportation, who all reported the same experience (see Mircae Eliade). 2. Indigenous tribes today ~ from Scandinavia and South America to Africa and India ~ who tell anthropologists that they and they forebears have had this same experience going back thousands of years. 3. Present day experiences of shamans. All report the same practical experience. And I believe that all human beings are deserving of respect, whether or not their practical experiences of life differ to your own. Anything else is ignorant bigotry.
SomeRandomGuy
4 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
Does not explain documented NDE cases where individuals have progressed past complete cardiac arrest to clinically dead (no heart beat, interruption of blood to the brain, no electrical brain function) and report cogent experiences or, for that matter, have the brain processes necessary to perceive a cogent experience. It does not explain how such an individual could have perceptual/cognitive processes necessary to experience and recall even a disjointed/delusional experience.

Given the recorded NDEs in which the individual is known to have a complete cessation of brain function, yet then report coherent experiences, it is difficult to see how the mechanisms effected by elevated CO2 would function in a unified state to produce coherent and memorisable experiences, given the other trauma and deficits (blood flow, electrical activity).

Unless the assertion here is that various areas of the brain are able to function in a unified manner without sustenance and measurable brain activity.
SomeRandomGuy
3 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2010
Also, as hinted at above:

Anything that causes a disruption to blood flow is going to cause more O2 to be consumed from the blood-borne source, with a corresponding transfer of CO2 into the blood.

Stands to reason that the simplest explanation of raised CO2 levels is that the normal processes of the rest of the body will attempt to continue, even though the blood supply is disrupted leading to an increase in CO2.

As to a cause of the tunnel and visions, etc., there is no real solid link. However, it is noted that exposure to severely increased CO2 levels will lead to "fogginess" of mind (i.e. inability to think clearly or concentrate properly) and delrium and then unconciousness. Sorta the opposite of the "clarity of thought and experience" reported by experiencers, especially in view of ceased brain function.
SmartK8
3.5 / 5 (8) Apr 08, 2010
I guess, I don't deserve your respect being called ignorant. Anyway, you've to distinguish between respect for a fellow being, and for their ideas. While I think most of the humans should be treated with respect, I don't think that of many of their ideas. We don't respect child's opinion on the results of math exercise. Humans can change the way their brain works, but changed perception != seeing something special. A human brain is a pattern seeker. People are trying to seek meaning in the dreams, in the shadows or while changing their brain's function. Shamans are using all sorts of brain changing substances, and indeed their brain is changed. People thought it was a divine state, while it's just a pathologic one. But don't take me wrong, I'm not here to decide what way of life is the best. I'm just stating, that till you do it upon yourself it's ok. But those people are spreading these ideas as if they're facts, arguing that some guru did it hundreds years ago.
frajo
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
Does not explain documented NDE cases where individuals have progressed past complete cardiac arrest to clinically dead (no heart beat, interruption of blood to the brain, no electrical brain function) and report cogent experiences
Is there any credible source for that claim?
Skeptic_Heretic
4.4 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
Your body is a highly complex system, even the following analogy is a gross oversimplification.

Take your car. Parts of it fail from time to time and each of us has probably owned a car that we said was "unkillable". Truth is, much like any complex systemic machine, a car doesn't terminally fail immediately. It wears down, suddenly the window lever won't work, the door handle will break, a tire goes bald, the engine runs funny, then it just stops turning on. Your body is the same way. We wear down, our internal sensors start to fail and we slowly die. When you're "terminally dead" and not comming back parts of you are still alive.

Medical research has been done on people who have recently died and doctors still find nerve impulse, twitching, in some cases minor higher brain activity.

NDE's are the body's way of gracefully shutting down. Truth is, by the time you have an NDE, you're dead, or have been dead, and if you're lucky, you come back.
Ishtar
2.1 / 5 (8) Apr 08, 2010
SmartK8, again you show that you're not so smart at all. Most shamans don't go into the shamanic state or journey by taking any kind of pyschotropic substance (although possibly those that do get the most press). Most shamans go into that state (known to scientists as the "theta state") by the beat of a drum. Scientists have found that a drum beat of between 4 and 7 per second will produce the theta state. In that theta state, shamans journey through the same tunnel reported by those who experience NDEs, into other dimensions. You could liken the tunnel to the string of string theory, that connects the different dimensions.

I guess, I don't deserve your respect being called ignorant. Anyway, you've to distinguish between respect for a fellow being, and for their ideas.
You were rude personally to a fellow being, i.e. missionfromgod ~ implying that he was on drugs. That's why you don't deserve respect...
Shaffer
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
Does not explain documented NDE cases where individuals have progressed past complete cardiac arrest to clinically dead (no heart beat, interruption of blood to the brain, no electrical brain function) and report cogent experiences


Is there any credible source for that claim?


I think one of you should hold your breath with your finger in an electrical socket and see what happens.

Lets face it....you can't have a pseudo-scientific discussion with a worldwide audience that refuses to leave religion out of the discussion...

Sure, we all have our belief systems to keep us going, but we need to adapt our religious beliefs to the facts of life...or nuke the crap out of each other. Either way, I'm ok with it...
shockr
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2010
I have to be honest, I've not read each post here. However there are some people commenting here who have tarred the OOBE experience with the same hocus pocus that surrounds religion.

If this is a scientific forum, then shouldn't we observe phenomenon with a critical eye?

Given that humans only have the capacity to percieve 3 dimensional space and a linear view of the 4th dimension (t), why would it not be acceptable to posit that there are other dimensions that we do not understand how to view?

Ishtar, your "temperal lobe epilepsy" attack might just be the physical representation of something happening that our scientific instruments cannot detect.

I'm not religious, however I do believe that the human race is still very primative. Anything that cannot be proven by our 'current' technology, instantly becomes fictional balony.. only to be proven at a later date when we know how. Who would have believed x-rays existed and could be used to see INSIDE someone, without cutting them up?
SmartK8
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 08, 2010
You're mixing a mumbo-jumbo coctail. I'll explain you how it goes. You just took few currently unexplained phenomenas. One in medicine, one in theoretical physics, one drop of your own fantasy, and made a final shake. You just connected almost unconnectable, provided no proof, and you're expecting from me what ? Even if the shamans (not you) really travelled in this state, and it looked like a tunnel (not you only imagining it to be). It will still makes not sense to liken it to a string in a string theory (m-theory). Which describes the other dimensions to be only one Planck constant thick, not much space for an open mind to squeeze thru. But IF all of these were somehow true, it doesn't imply that what the shaman saw there was of any importance. It was just his brain distorted. About respect: Ok, I didn't really wondered why I'm not getting respect, but I rather wondered that you made same to me. I guess you don't deserve your own respect in this logic, very interesting.
Ishtar
2.2 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
Death will come to all of us... not just to scientists. And what happens after that, science has not yet been able to explain. Therefore, the discussion of NDEs is a legitimate one for anyone who has or is likely to experience death (aka everyone currently breathing) wherever that discussion is taking place. In addition, the repeatability of the experiences of shamans (which, by the way, is nothing like temporal lobe epilepsy) would make shamanism a legitimate arena of inquiry for even a science audience.
Ishtar
2 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
Even if the shamans (not you) really travelled in this state, and it looked like a tunnel (not you only imagining it to be). It will still makes not sense to liken it to a string in a string theory (m-theory). Which describes the other dimensions to be only one Planck constant thick, not much space for an open mind to squeeze thru.


Kate, the shaman doesn't travel physically down the 'tunnel' which can be likened, I said, to the string of String Theory in that it connects dimensions. The word I used was 'liken'. I was just trying to give you an idea of how it works. So it's not a question of squeezing "an open mind" through it. It is not his physical body that travels down the tunnel, but what the ancient Egyptians used to call the 'ka' body, or else it could be known as the etheric body. Anyway, whatever we call it, it's something else that science has yet to catch up with, lol! Hope that helps ... but I've a feeling it won't. :-(
SmartK8
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
I agree, we can learn more about different states of human mind. Even from the shamans as well as LSD trippers, but I wouldn't go that far to imply that it has something to do with anything else than that person's brain (or possibly a whole body). Unexplained doesn't mean that anything that anyone suggests is an equal possibility. The reason people are worried to die is that they want to experience their life (productive part of life) forever, but there's not one single religion or transcendent theory that leaves you with that. Either it's not in the reality, or it's not you, or you don't remember anything. The Occam's razor leaves us with 'nothing is after death'. It may not be true, but for the sake of sanity, I hope it is, but that's just me.
Ishtar
1.4 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
The reason people are worried to die is that they want to experience their life (productive part of life) forever, but there's not one single religion or transcendent theory that leaves you with that.


On the contrary ...

If you remember, Kate, I explained earlier that the shaman acts as a psychopomp in that he carries the spirit or soul of the deceased on to their next destination or next life. In other words, the new life after the death of this one. It is just the body that dies, and it's shrugged off at 'death' just like an old winter overcoat when Spring arrives.
SmartK8
4.5 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2010
Kate, the shaman doesn't travel physically down the 'tunnel' which can be likened...


Still you don't know that, it's just in their brains, there's no proof of traveling somewhere. It's nothing to catch up with. Science is studying the effects, which a trans state may have on a person, but if I took an LSD and flown to a different universe, everybody would just know, that it was the chemical state of my mind, and not a real thing. If shamans can do that without the LSD, it's cheaper, no argument there, but still it's just their brain. Why would you think otherwise ? Or rather, why would you want to believe otherwise ?
frajo
4.6 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
I think one of you should hold your breath with your finger in an electrical socket and see what happens.
Done that when I was 12 (by accident). An unforgettable experience, but nothing divine - no angels, no music, just muscles out of control. :)
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2010
I think one of you should hold your breath with your finger in an electrical socket and see what happens.
Done that when I was 12 (by accident). An unforgettable experience, but nothing divine - no angels, no music, just muscles out of control. :)

110 or 220?

I did it with 220 when I was a kid (10) and oh boy was that a fun lesson.
Ishtar
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010
Well there are two answers to that, Kate.

The first is that all shamans report the same or similar phenonomen and have done for thousands of years. They report that there are three worlds, and not just this one we're in now. There is also an Upper World and a Lower World, and their descriptions of these worlds tally, even though one shaman may have been in Siberia and the other in South America, and long before the days of mass communications and transport. This is what I mean by repeatability.

But secondly, I don't have to believe or not believe them. I am a shaman myself.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.5 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2010
The first is that all shamans report the same or similar phenonomen and have done for thousands of years. They report that there are three worlds, and not just this one we're in now. There is also an Upper World and a Lower World, and their descriptions of these worlds tally, even though one may have been in Siberia and another in South America long before the days of mass communications and transport. This is what I mean by repeatability.

Because all of man and his society didn't originate in a single place, with a single culture, that persisted in some efforts of bringing it's basic tennets of sun worship and burial of the dead......

Secondly, most cultures do not believe there are 3 worlds. Some think there are thousands, some think there are but 2. You're erroneously assuming that your theological background is similar or the same to the small pieces you remember from prior readings or teachings of other cultures.

It's called projection, and this is a textbook case.
frajo
5 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2010
Done that when I was 12 (by accident). An unforgettable experience, but nothing divine - no angels, no music, just muscles out of control. :)

110 or 220?
I did it with 220 when I was a kid (10) and oh boy was that a fun lesson.
220 - welcome to the club :)
Thrasymachus
1.3 / 5 (12) Apr 08, 2010
Well, the ancient Jewish faith originally had but two levels to reality, this one and the afterlife, which was the same for everybody, and rather dull and colorless. Later Jews and Christians innovated Heaven, a concept they stole from the Greek Elysian fields, cause who doesn't want to feel superior to everybody else when they die? Soon, however, they realized that very wealthy people should be able to pay their way out of Hell, so they invented Purgatory. Finally, as a gesture to charity, they came up with Limbo, a place even more boring that the original afterlife, but not so bad as Purgatory or Hell, where the unbaptized babies and saint-like pagans can go. Recently, they dropped Limbo, cause who needs it really, when you've got Purgatory.
Thrasymachus
1.9 / 5 (12) Apr 08, 2010
Oh, and Ishy, your theta state is simply a kind of brain wave pattern opposed to the alpha, beta and delta wave patterns. Changes in those patterns are routinely correlated with changes in physical activity-level, relaxation, reported sense of well-being, perceptual awareness, and various sorts of emotions and feelings. Nothing in that research suggests any connection to anything supernatural or extra-dimensional. And the closest thing we have to a Ka-body is our own mental representation of ourselves, rather like Neo's body in the Matrix, what they called a "residual self-image." It's the same body you've got when you dream. And dreams are just brains organizing data and getting ready for its next bout with reality.
Ishtar
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2010

Secondly, most cultures do not believe there are 3 worlds....You're erroneously assuming that your theological background is similar or the same to the small pieces you remember from prior readings or teachings of other cultures.

It's called projection, and this is a textbook case.


Sorry no ... it's called anthropological research. For just one example, I can refer you to: the 100s of interviews carried out with shamans at the turn of 19th century which were collated by the late Professor of the Religious History at Harvard, Mircae Eliade in his book: Shamanism. Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. But there's countless more scientific data of this kind, if you care to look.... almost as much as there is ill-founded opinion from ignoramuses (or should that be ignoramusi?).

I know the theta state is a brain wave pattern...just as I know the shamanic journey takes place by changing those waves by a drum beat. There's nothing magical or supernatural about it. It's very natural.
Thrasymachus
2.2 / 5 (13) Apr 08, 2010
But there's also no evidence that what's reported as being experienced when one's brain waves have been induced into a theta state, or even when they find themselves in such a state naturally, is real. Since human brains are all basically wired up the same way, it would be more surprising if they reported differing experiences when presented with such similar, and rather generalized simulation. Even if your evidence is sound, which it is not, since you have to cherry-pick your ancient cultures to obtain the metaphysical agreement you seek, it is only evidence of the similarity of human brain function, not of the metaphysical structure of reality.
Amgartsh
4.8 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2010
so ishtar what you're saying is that the theta state is reached by essentially aligning your brain waves to that of a drumbeat 4-7 beats/sec..
what if these NDEs are just what the brain experiences when it reaches that same brain wave? that would explain how they both see essentially the same thing (tunnel, light, etc.)
JayK
3.8 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2010
NDE's are also explained through social cues and pressures, suggestibility and peer pressure creates expectations and group identities. Along with the layered evolved brain, it is very likely that what is remembered later as an NDE is actually nothing of what was actually experienced, but is radically changed to meet expectations, both personal and sociological.

So you're a shaman, too, ishtar? What level? A friend of mine is level 80 now and is spec'd elemental. (Yes, I'm making fun of you because you're ridiculous)
Skeptic_Heretic
4.5 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2010
Sorry no ... it's called anthropological research. For just one example, I can refer you to: the 100s of interviews carried out with shamans at the turn of 19th century which were collated by the late Professor of the Religious History at Harvard, Mircae Eliade in his book: Shamanism. Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy.

Eliade insisted that all human beings are religous within that book, yes you're not the only theological reader on here. Eliade spoke exclusively of indo-american and indo european shamanism and druidism, not of other religous manifestations within that book so again you're simply projecting your qualitative opinion upon a quantitative observation.
But there's countless more scientific data of this kind, if you care to look....

Yes, I've seen the "crystal links" site.
almost as much as there is ill-founded opinion from ignoramuses (or should that be ignoramusi?).
Spoken like a true follower of shamanism.....
gironjustin
4 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2010
There was a study that pointed to the chemical DMT as the culprit for near death and "transcendent" experiences. It was conducted by Rick Strassman at the University of New Mexico's School of Medicine. He said that the chemical is produced in the brain by the pineal gland. He had a theory that when people had NDEs or just plain transcendent experiences it was when the pineal gland produced an abundance of the chemical. I don't know whether or not he proved it but it does sound like a logical idea that the same chemical that produces our dreams is also responsible for NDE's and spiritual experiences.There was a whole documentary about it but they pointed to the pineal gland as the spiritual "third eye" and also implied that it was the gate to the world of the dead. now i don't know any of that stuff but the general idea about DMT being responsible for mystical visions seems like a solid notion. F
gironjustin
3 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2010
It just seems to be more logical that a hallucinogenic chemical like DMT would be accountable for these things rather than carbon dioxide.
JayK
not rated yet Apr 08, 2010
Why would it be more logical? The lack of oxygen and the abundance of CO2 into the brain at the time of death would cause rapid degradation of the optical cortex. As the hemisphere's begin to receive random firing from the frontal lobe they would fire off random unlinked memories.

Of course it is a rather complex system, and if you add in additional releases of chemical compounds while all of this is happening (including adrenalin) then the results are going to be pretty spectacular.

Couple in the sociological factors that I mentioned above and you have some great stories that seem to have underlying similarities, mostly due to the need for acceptance.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2010
It just seems to be more logical that a hallucinogenic chemical like DMT would be accountable for these things rather than carbon dioxide.

CO2 over 5000ppm is a hallucinogenic for humans due to asphyxia.

Couple in the sociological factors that I mentioned above and you have some great stories that seem to have underlying similarities, mostly due to the need for acceptance.

Or underlying similarities due to shared genetic precedent.
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2010
ill-founded opinion from ignoramuses (or should that be ignoramusi?)
I don't use "ignoramus" at all as it's (a very old) bad usage of Latin. It just means "we don't know". There is no grammatical form "ignoramusi".
"Ignorant"/"ignorants" is to be preferred.
pauljpease
4 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2010
I'd be happy to volunteer to be exposed to high levels of CO2 to see what happens. Put me in an MRI and turn on the gas. Are we talking about science here, or superstition? Oh, and for those who will try to defend their beliefs as "not superstition", I have some questions for you. Is it possible for someone to fully believe something that isn't true? If so, how can you tell if your own belief is true or not? Or do you believe, incredibly, that all beliefs are true? If so, what is your definition of true? Feel free to have your own opinion, but just know how manipulative and divisive it is when you believe in supernatural forces to explain your personal experiences. No one else can share that with you and people are likely to believe you for normal psychological reasons, so in essence you are coercing people into sharing your beliefs. I've had transcendent experiences, they changed my life, I often believed it was evidence for some higher power, but I also know it was brain malfunction
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2010
Is it possible for someone to fully believe something that isn't true?
Yes, happens all the time and to everyone.
If so, how can you tell if your own belief is true or not?
Depends on what the belief is. Typically logical deduction and quantitative observation.
Or do you believe, incredibly, that all beliefs are true? If so, what is your definition of true?

I lumped these questions together because they're nonsensical. If something is true then it will manifest its reality upon observation and be irrefutable by standards of logic.
LuckyBrandon
not rated yet Apr 08, 2010
A few years ago, some researchers "proved" that NDEs were caused by electical stimulation of a primitive part of the brain causing hullicinations. Strange that everyone hullucinates exactly the same thing.


Not everyone hallucinates the same thing. My thought for the tunnel of light some people see for this, is simply the fact of mental regression. Th very first thing you saw when you came out was a bright ass tunnel of light. I figure a mental regression can easily produce this.
For instance, when my grandfather was dying, he began talking with people whom were long dead, but as a child would talk to an adult, then later on, he was "talking" with his mom, in fluent german none the less (which he always insisted he did not know how to speak)...he stated his age during that conversation with the air as 4 years old...earlier on in the day he thought I was 10 years old again..was telling me to be a good boy and we'd go hunting and fishing..a conversation we did have when I was10
otto1923
not rated yet Apr 08, 2010
God works in mysterious ways. Haha just kidding.
It would be interesting to be able to induce a NDE though...
Isnt that how David Carradine died?
And I believe that all human beings are deserving of respect, whether or not their practical experiences of life differ to your own. Anything else is ignorant bigotry.
Yeah you just dont want to get flamed. Didnt work did it?
The first is that all shamans report the same or similar phenonomen and have done for thousands of years.
Shamans have to make a living too, dont they?
For instance, when my grandfather was dying, he began talking with people whom were long dead, but as a child would talk to an adult, then later on, he was "talking" with his mom, in fluent german
Its called hallucinating. How do you know it was fluent german or just somebodys Wunschtraum of the afterlife?
otto1923
5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2010
God works in mysterious ways. Haha just kidding.
It would be interesting to be able to induce a NDE though...
Isnt that how David Carradine died?
And I believe that all human beings are deserving of respect, whether or not their practical experiences of life differ to your own. Anything else is ignorant bigotry.
Yeah you just dont want to get flamed. Didnt work did it?
The first is that all shamans report the same or similar phenonomen and have done for thousands of years.
Shamans have to make a living too, dont they?
For instance, when my grandfather was dying, he began talking with people whom were long dead, but as a child would talk to an adult, then later on, he was "talking" with his mom, in fluent german
Like you say, its called hallucinating. No extrasensory claims need be invoked. How do you know it was fluent german or just somebodys Wunschtraum of the afterlife?

-Thats better.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2010
And I believe that all human beings are deserving of respect, whether or not their practical experiences of life differ to your own. Anything else is ignorant bigotry.

So you respect Hitler, Stalin, Bismarck, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Edi Amin, etc.

What a silly thing to assert. Respect is earned not given freely. To hand it out like halloween candy devalues the concept.

For instance, when my grandfather was dying, he began talking with people whom were long dead, but as a child would talk to an adult, then later on, he was "talking" with his mom, in fluent german

Anecdotal and impossible to prove so we can't really use this as any sort of evidence, however, I'd suggest that the higher functions of his brain were regressively shutting down, as is expected. All that was left were memories and muscle control on a replay cycle, much like AS.
LuckyBrandon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2010
Its called hallucinating. How do you know it was fluent german or just somebodys Wunschtraum of the afterlife?


Because half my family knows German.....so yea, pretty easy to tell its german when they could understand him....
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2010
Because half my family knows German.....so yea, pretty easy to tell its german when they could understand him....

Which lends further creedence to his having AS or another degenerative neural symptoms and having zero to do with any form of spirituality.
LuckyBrandon
4.3 / 5 (4) Apr 09, 2010
Which lends further creedence to his having AS or another degenerative neural symptoms and having zero to do with any form of spirituality.


Oh I COMPELTELY agree. Its simple mental degradation. I figure the memory centers are starting to die newest to oldest, and you end up seeing the very first thing your mind remembers (although not consiously remembers)...the birth canal...a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Makes much more sense than going to the imaginary lands of heaven or hell.
HeloMenelo
1 / 5 (5) Apr 10, 2010
Babies are born with eyes closed.
Spiritual experiences cannot be proven or falsified
for it cannot be measured by our current state of reality/existence.

Who's to say that we on earth are equiped to know, and understand everything, we can only measure what we can see, interpret as humans with physical human brains, human eyes and by equipment made by us.

Think about how small a person is in comparison to the observable universe.

Now take the size of a human brain and compare that up with the universe.

Size comparison is despicaple to say the least.
We cannot know everything in this existence.

If something as great as the universe came into existance, i beleive something else can be happening too after this life.

There is absolutely no way that i will be convinced that there is not an existence after this life. Considering the greatness of what is out there!

And that is only from what we can see and understand as mere humans.
jmessina
1 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2010
How do you explain a person having an NDE or OBE observing things in others parts of the hospital and making an accurate account on conservations that took place. Or a person that was clinically dead for over an half-hour accurately describing the details of the doctors working on them. I don't think hallucinations can account for this.

Those who do not believe in an afterlife will always find a reason what causes an NDE or OBE, its just human nature to think this way.
Caliban
5 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2010
From all accounts, NDEs and OBEs are two different animals. Neither one, however, is conclusive evidence of an afterlife.

What many here seem to be missing is that the people who experienced these NDEs were ALL at or below some CO2 concentration threshold, with no heartbeat/bloodflow.

Brain chemistry begins to change virtually as soon as blood flow ceases. After this apparent threshold is crossed, you are DEAD, and more or less irreversible chemical processes continue until they reach the energy barrier beyond which they cannot be sustained.

The pertinent question here is: at what point during this process do these so-called NDE "memories" or "experiences" actually take place? For all we know, they're generated mere picoseconds after heartbeat stops. They may even be a damage control mechanism

Its apparent that there's a contextual-if not 100% clear causal- link here, but to cite any of this as proof of an afterlife is the worst kind of wishful, projective, thinking.
zevkirsh
5 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2010
the delusions can be patterns in the brain created just before death, surviving the brain dead state in enough order to be recalled after the person is reawakened and regains consiciousness.

Does not explain documented NDE cases where individuals have progressed past complete cardiac arrest to clinically dead (no heart beat, interruption of blood to the brain, no electrical brain function) and report cogent experiences or, for that matter, have the brain processes necessary to perceive a cogent experience. It does not explain how such an individual could have perceptual/cognitive processes necessary to experience and recall even a disjointed/delusional experience.

Given the recorded NDEs in which the individual is known to have a complete cessation of brain function\ [/blockquote]
MrGM
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2010
To all those who are arguing for a spiritual interpretation of NDE:
Suppose that this research is continued, and we discover that by artificially changing blood chemistry, perhaps electrically stimulating certain parts of the brain, etc. we can produce an NDE in someone who is decidedly not dying. We then induce these NDEs and carefully monitor brain activations and body state and record their experiences, and from this information we find explanations of exactly why such experiences occur (e.g. a particular common pattern of activation in the visual cortex produces a tunnel-like white light).
In this scenario, would you change your opinion that it is supernatural? Because at the end of the day, this would be a best case scenario for scientific research. To my mind, such a physical explanation would demonstrate that NDEs are in fact decidedly natural. But if you would still insist that they are supernatural in nature, then there's really no point in arguing about it.
HeloMenelo
1 / 5 (4) Apr 11, 2010
Perhaps we are meant to experience NDE's by this changed state of chemical processes etc..

I cannot deny that it is part of the NDE process.
I beleive we would be built like that for a reason, and nearly all acounts report the same experience.

The activity that is going on could be just the tool that makes it physically possible to interpret the spiritual experience via the brain,
so that it perhaps could be remembered by the person when conscious again.

I also would beleive that the human spirit would be working hand in hand with the physical brain, for the brain interprets what we observe to the soul and understand in our physical world.
otto1923
5 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2010
The activity that is going on could be just the tool that makes it physically possible to interpret the spiritual experience via the brain, so that it perhaps could be remembered by the person when conscious again.
Except that there is no spirit, no soul, therefore the spiritual experience as you call it has to be something else.
I also would beleive that the human spirit would be working hand in hand with the physical brain, for the brain interprets what we observe to the soul
The brain interprets these things to itself. There is no other mechanism at work between the senses, the brain, and the body. A soul is not needed to explain how we function.
The myth does serve to lessen our terror of death, and the concept has been exploited to manipulate us, to have us suffer and die in support of civilization. THAT is the most compelling reason that the myth of the soul persists. What you believe, what you want so desperately to be real, is not what IS real. You've been duped
otto1923
5 / 5 (3) Apr 11, 2010
I beleive we would be built like that for a reason
We are 'built' the way we are to be compatible with a wholly physical and ever-changing world.
and nearly all acounts report the same experience.
The article offers a physiological explanation for this. The human animal percieves death as another barrier and like any animal it seeks to escape confinement at all costs. Animals can't foresee their deaths. "God puts eternity in the hearts of men."Ecc3. We see those around us grow feeble and die, and logic tells us it will happen to us and the people we love. This unbearable reality and the pain it evokes gives rise to the concept of eternal life, and the hope that it's reality lies somewhere in the unproven and unprovable. Every scientific discovery threatens this safe place, the mysterious spiritual abode. We can't stand the thought that we will just 'end'.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2010
I went to Mass for Easter. Of course the theme of this holiday is victory over death, but I was surprised at how often it was mentioned throughout the service. "For god so loved the world..." that he would promise the people upon it just about anything, in order to save it from them.
frajo
4 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2010
I went to Mass for Easter.
You seem to be quite obsessed with your enemy. You know how dangerous this might become, I suppose.
oneplusfortyseven
1 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2010
The study is doesn't prove anything. I experienced a NDE due to massive blood loss following the botched delivery of my child. I lost all of my own blood and was given 47 units of blood during my ordeal. I went without adequate blood circulation for the 1st 4 hours and had reduced levels of CO2 not increased levels as the study reports. I was in a coma for 3 days and was not expected to live. I did not experience flashing lights and peace and joy during my NDE. While I was in a coma it was decided that I would be allowed to live. I was shown my husband who was kneeling and crying and was told to tell him that I was going to be okay and not to cry anymore. When I woke up my husband told me that he had felt my presence in the room which was across the street from the hospital. He told me that when he was on his knees he felt something pass thru him and that I had told him that everything was going to be okay that I was going to live. I then shared my NDE with him.
JayK
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2010
Anecdotal evidence and spiritual begging. This is great science, people. I specifically like how I pointed out that memories are malleable, so a few people then use anecdotes that could easily be explained by malleable memory to prove there is some sort of "human spirit".

Go away and pray, leave science up to people that are serious about it.
LuckyBrandon
3 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2010
oh there may very well be something after life...but that would be your body's electrical current grounding out, and thats probably just about it from that perspective. call it a soul if you want...
the concept of a blissful place, or a place with 70 virgins, or a place where you wait to be put back into the game of life...IMO, all bs...simply something to make you not kill yourself when life gets hard...
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2010
I went to Mass for Easter. Of course the theme of this holiday is victory over death, but I was surprised at how often it was mentioned throughout the service. "For god so loved the world..." that he would promise the people upon it just about anything, in order to save it from them.

Seeing as the Christian church sees birth as entrance into a life of sin and penance I wouldn't doubt that their message is as such. If God truly loved the world perhaps he wouldn't have booted his creation from the garden for fulfilling the characteristics he deemed necessary to grant us.

Current Christianity is about as far from their "prophet's" teachings as they can be.
SRDUB2
not rated yet Apr 12, 2010
I wonder if this has any relation to the bursts of DMT(Dimethyltryptamine) in the brain during a NDE and when you are born.
frajo
not rated yet Apr 12, 2010
a place where you wait to be put back into the game of life...IMO, all bs...
come on, a little bit of vision - today we are replacing the heart, tomorrow the eye, and someday the biological brain with all its individual traits just in time by some shiny hardware. Nostalgicians can have their unit encapsuled in an old-fashioned human body but the pragmatists just want to get rid of that maintenance overhead.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2010
I went to Mass for Easter.
You seem to be quite obsessed with your enemy. You know how dangerous this might become, I suppose.
"Know thine enemy." My family is religious. I also went to see the dragons movie. I thought the movie was more uplifting. So what?
Shaffer
not rated yet Apr 20, 2010
Death will come to all of us... not just to scientists.


Liar!