Near death experiences(NDE) have interested people for a long time. They are so powerful and mysterious that we invest them with deep meaning. The earliest recorded example we have is from Plato in, “The Myth of Er,” the concluding legend in “The Republic.” Er dies in battle and revives ten days later on his funeral pyre. He tells people of his time in the afterlife, celestial spheres and reincarnation. Supposedly, moral people are rewarded and immoral people punished after death.
Here’s an example of the typically fact-free speculation of believers from Crystalinks Metaphysics and Science Site.
“Reality is a consciousness hologram set in linear time to experience and study human emotions. Consciousness moves from one reality to another – from physical (slow) to higher consciousness (faster frequency of thought) during out-of-body experiences, meditations, and dreams, in times of trauma and shock, sometimes remembering what they encountered, but other times unable to retrieve the information because it cannot be processed on(sic) understood at the physical level of conscious awareness. The light that people see if(sic) the source of consciousness creation for everything in our reality.”
NDEs are often associated with clinical death, which is sometimes cited as being real scientific proof that the person was really dead. Clinical death is actually “the medical term for cessation of blood circulation and breathing, the two necessary criteria to sustain life. It occurs when the heart stops beating in a regular rhythm, a condition called cardiac arrest. The term is also sometimes used in resuscitation research.” The key here being “resuscitation.” The person was resuscitated and kept alive and was therefore never dead. Clinical death does not equal death.
Moving on to actual science, we have a 13-year Dutch study published in Lancet. The study was led by Pim van Lommel.
From the study: “. . . neurophysiological processes must play some part in NDE. Similar experiences can be induced through electrical stimulation of the temporal lobe (and hence of the hippocampus) during neurosurgery for epilepsy, with high carbon dioxide levels (hypercarbia), and in decreased cerebral perfusion resulting in local cerebral hypoxia as in rapid acceleration during training of fighter pilots, or as in hyperventilation followed by Valsalva manoeuvre. Ketamine-induced experiences resulting from blockage of the NMDA receptor, and the role of endorphin, serotonin, and enkephalin have also been mentioned, as have near-death-like experiences after the use of LSD, psilocarpine, and mescaline. These induced experiences can consist of unconsciousness, out-of-body experiences, and perception of light or flashes of recollection from the past.”
A study led by Dr. Karl Jansen concludes:
“NDE’s(sic) can be safely induced by ketamine, and the glutamate theory of the NDE can thus be investigated by experiment. Discoveries in neuroscience suggest a common origin for ketamine experiences and the NDE in events occuring at glutamatergic synapses, mediated by NMDA receptors via their PCP channel component. This hypothesis links most of the neurobiological and psychological theories (hypoxia, a peptide flood, temporal lobe electrical abnormalities, regression in the service of the ego, reactivation of birth memories, sensory deprivation etc.) rather than being an alternative to them. Most of the tenets of the hypothesis are strongly supported by experimental evidence which implicates glutamate and NMDA receptors in the processes which precipitate NDE’s(sic). The postulate that anti-excitotoxic agents can flood the brain remains to be clearly established.”
Here’s a short, clear interview with neurologist Kevin Nelson.
“A 1997 survey reported that 18 million Americans had had (an NDE). When my team surveyed people who have had them, we found that some occurred during cardiac arrest but the vast majority were during fainting.”
In a practical experiment to test the claims of people who have NDEs and out-of-body experiences(OBEs) while on the operating table, some surgeons have placed objects on top of the operating room lights where they can only be seen from above. No one who reported leaving their body and floating up to the ceiling has ever reported seeing any of those objects. While the brain can produce a representation of the room from the point of view of the ceiling during an OBE, it can’t show things that aren’t visible from its real position.