"New dimensions of reality": Near-death experiences persisted for an hour after patients' hearts stopped, neuroscientists reveal

Originally published at: "New dimensions of reality": Near-death experiences persisted for an hour after patients' hearts stopped, neuroscientists reveal | Boing Boing


It seems like they should be studying this in conjunction with psychedelic drugs and their ability (or potential) to remove or deregulate the brains natural inhibitory systems. Of course there is all the red tape and such about studying drugs like this…

I do find that what and how I dream has changed greatly over my life. As a child a lot of my dreams where first person, with that person being me. They felt vivid, real, and full of emotion. As a middle aged adult they are split between 1st and 3rd person perspective, with 1st person not always being me. A lot of the time my conscious mind realizes I’m dreaming, but it’s almost like I’m watching a movie. Very rarely do I feel as though I am actually completely in a dream and not just an observer. I wonder if age of the near death patients had any affect on their overall experience?


the brain suffers permanent damage about 10 minutes after the heart stops supplying it with oxygen, our work found that the brain can show signs of electrical recovery long into ongoing CPR,"

But isn’t the whole point of CPR to keep blood pumping? As well as trying to re-kick start it. Surely some of that artificially pumped blood is going to get to the brain?


That was my thought as well. I’d always heard the ten-minute rule as being ten minutes without oxygen, with quality CPR helping to extend that time to get to the electrical shock.


I’m more than a little suspicious of this, as the various reporting on this all talk about the “evolutionary purpose” of something that can’t be selected for - I mean, the whole dying bit literally means anything that happens can’t be selected for. So we’re talking about something that is, at best, is a side-effect of something completely different that was selected for.

Also, the whole “near death experience” phenomenon has been absolutely dominated by data from people who were never at any risk of dying, so even if this particular study looks only at people who were receiving CPR but also is connecting that, in any way, to that mislabeled phenomenon, then that’s highly problematic.

Also also, all the coverage I’ve seen so far contains various interpretive text of a religious flavor (e.g. may open access to “new dimensions of reality,”) and I’m not sure who that’s coming from. It wouldn’t be the first time in a study like this where a number of people contributed to it and then one person who was key in putting it all together added a bunch of their own religious woo on top, unsupported by anything in the study.


I may be misremembering, but someone took a neural network along the lines of our visual cortex, and started randomly killing connections. Guess what you got? A tunnel with a light at the end. So some of the near death experience things may just be math.



No, thank you, I’ll be fine.


I feel I need to comment of this part. Irreversible brain injury begins after about 4 minutes of anoxia. If there is effective CPR ongoing, there should be no anoxia. Therefore, there should be no amazement at the fact that the bran continues to function, only congratulations to the resuscitators that they are doing it correctly. No clue what to make of the rest of this, but this part stood out as “Well, actually,…”


That specific phrase really rankles me and reeks of a certain woo-woo bias.


The BB summation, the linked article, and the embedded video are all pretty bad / confusing / mystical. But the original journal article is pretty approachable, and the section Take Home Message makes the whole thing much more understandable (if not way less interesting):

People undergoing CPR may have consciousness despite the absence of visible external signs of consciousness.

Of course, the journal article reveals that none of this is probably very reliable, since the total sample size was 53 people.


It’s all just chemistry - easily explained! Nothing mysterious to see here folks!

blue screen middle finger GIF by Anthony Antonellis

but what if chemistry is mysterious? i know it is to me :sweat_smile:


Sorry! Forgot the /s

“Valency.” What even is it?

(Trick question. It’s the point at which I checked out of the subject in high school.)

1 Like

Every few years we look at giant meta analysese about CPR, and we tweak how we try to revive people. Different timing, different shocks, different rates, etc. We know that with good CPR the brain gets mostly adequate blood flow, and we know that with good blood flow the brain lives. This study seems really odd to me. Like, all they figured out was that people who are not awake and talking might be conscious?

The first time I did CPR on a person who opened their eyes and talked, it was really upsetting - but worse was the fact that the only reason they were awake was the CPR, and as soon as we would stop they would lose consciousness. Worst code ever.


… oh you and your “logic” and “facts” :roll_eyes:


ISTM that the most interesting aspects of Parnia’s studies (AWARE2) are those which involve situating a monitor above the patient (only visible to someone up near the ceiling) that display randomised images. This seems like a good way to scientifically test the dualism implicit in those stories where someone reports conversations or medical procedures or tennis shoes on a roof that they should not have been able to witness while they were flatlining.
But I’m not sure that there have been any/many encouraging results from this aspect of the study.

1 Like

Yeah, they were trying to figure out how a common phenomenon that was obviously originating in the brain came about, because the vast majority of the “light at the end of the tunnel” reports were from people who had… fainted, basically. People who lost consciousness (usually in a particular way, as a result of a specific degree of decrease in blood oxygen levels) and who were not at any risk of dying if they hadn’t received any medical care. Pretty much the opposite of a “near death experience.” (“Common life experience”?)

Hmmm… does the lead author have a degree in theo-chemistry?