Terminal/paradoxical lucidity. Overlap with NDEs?
I was going to write this at some point after Alan put a link to the below Guardian article in the last post discussion, but someone else has asked me to post on it, so here we go.
Guardian article on Terminal Lucidity.
I recently started work in Alzheimer’s for a Biotech that has a program in developing treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). As with all my work over the years in different diseases, I collaborate with leading academics and physicians in the disease area to develop research ideas – our own and theirs; discuss and disseminate latest research information and help facilitate the implementation of improved diagnostics and treatment pathways. I love what I do, whether it is in HIV, which I spent many years working in, or AD, which I have a particular passion for due to watching my father succumb to this hideous disease. The idea that I may be a part of helping deliver the first wave of potentially disease modifying therapies that slow the progress of this monstrous disease is hugely exciting.
Above is a picture of a normal brain and a brain that has been severely damaged due to AD . The brain of someone who dies with AD can weigh as much as 30% less than a normal brain at death. AD destroys the brain through a pathway that is widely understood to involve the deposition of Beta-Amyloid plaques in the neurons of the brain, which then through an immune response causes another protein called Tau, which has structural and metabolic roles in the neuron, to become dissociated with the neuron and eventually form clumps and neuronal death. This is the Amyloid cascade pathway that most scientists believe is the primary mechanism by which AD occurs. The process can start up to 20 years before symptoms appear, and once symptoms appear will usually kill the patient within 6-15 years. It is a terminal disease.
As the disease progresses patients go from experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which usually involves short term memory issues, to mild dementia which may affect one’s ability to do complex tasks, through to severe or advanced dementia where the patient is normally incapable of the most basic of tasks, becomes completely incontinent, and has lost all memory function or ability to speak. They are barely conscious as we understand consciousness. The final stage is death when the part of the brain that controls vital functions such as metabolism or heart rate etc becomes affected. Often dementia patients will die of chest infections as they lose their cough reflex and they literally drown in the fluid accumulating in their lungs. Often they will have pneumonia on their death certificates, but ultimately it is AD that killed them. In the UK it is now acknowledged as the biggest killer (over 20% of “with COVID” deaths are dementia patients). Suffice to say, at this stage the brain should not be functionally capable of lucidity.
Terminal, or paradoxical lucidity, is the phenomenon in which patients who have advanced AD and who have been in a state of cognitive non existence for months suddenly appear completely lucid or “their old selves again”. This usually occurs shortly before their deaths. It is not unique to AD patients, but from a scientific and philosophical perspective it is this group of patients that are most interesting and where those who have an interest in NDEs become excited.
Ultimately, terminal or paradoxical lucidity is not understood from a scientific perspective. A brain that has lost so much of its physical structure that the patient long ago lost cognitive function, and can no longer perform basic physiological functions like bladder control, should not be capable of “producing” high level conscious activity. It is a paradox, hence the alternative nomenclature. The overlap with NDEs, and hence the reason that Sam Parnia has become involved in this work, is obvious: people who report NDEs are reporting consciousness when the brain is completely incapable of consciousness from a scientific perspective because it is completely inactive.
The justification for research into this area is that maybe by understanding what activity we observe on an EEG during one of these terminal lucidity episodes, we may be able to develop technology that generates sufficient targeted stimulation to cause patients with AD to recover some of their function. There is a precedent for this. Currently available symptomatic treatments of AD, such as Donepezil, which slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetyl choline, have been shown to improve cognitive function in some patients with AD, especially when used early. However these drugs do not alter the underlying disease process, they just “make better use of” the undamaged part of the brain; the patient will die at the same point with or without treatment. It is just a brain booster (student doctors have used it in medical exams to enhance their performance!). Arguably, if we can understand the physiological processes that are occurring during terminal lucidity, maybe we can devise technology that creates the same effect. That at least is the materialistic justification for this research.
Non-materialists, or “Nutters”, like me have a different explanation. The long established guest of the brain (the consciousness) has returned and somehow is able sequester the remnants of its dying host to experience and communicate with this realm one last time. It is a “paranormal” or “supernatural” phenomenon.
Hello folks. I’ve been following this blog for some months because i was interested in a place that NDE’s are analyzed and discussed with plausible arguments and evidences. Well, today I found this interview with a neurologist who said that he had known one neuroscietist who had an false-perception during his near-death experience:
I’m sending this to see if there is any good reason for this to happen if usually the perception are meant to be veridical.
Im not a pseudo-sceptical, just am trying to always see both sides. Thank you and convince me.
That is very interesting, and I have not heard much about these kinds of false reports much, possibly because they don’t get reported. However, rather than distract this discussion, which I hope will be on terminal/paradoxical lucidity, maybe we could car park it till a new NDE post…when I create one! There are many veridical OBE reports.
allright ben, sorry about my english, im not a native speaker. so i guess we can wait some time untill the next NDE post. I also had posted this in the previous post, but I thought it would be ignored. For this reason, I came here looking for any answer about this controversial aspect which I found yesterday.
I think creating a 2nd NDE post would be helpful to discuss things like that. Perhaps even a weekly general dicsussion post for NDE related topics would be helpful for us?
Astra Bulfo…you have got me thinking. It’s just coming up with fresh topics.
First time posters need to be approved by me, hence the delay…it’s either that or spam, and trolls. It is one time only.
Well, I would like to comment on both things.
On terminal lucidity, I think it is very paradoxical, since the neurons that are in charge of high mentation, cognitive functions, speech, etc are dead. You can have a boost of energy, but if the wires are all cracked and torn, and no connection can be made…where does the TL all come from? Even if new pathways are used, that woul imply that what we currently know about brain connections and functions is not quite right. I don’t know. These studies need founding, and you get founding by justification of your objectives, and that should based on current materialist views. Other wise you won’t get founding. Greyson wrote an article with a group about this, as one of the co-authors. As I understood from him they wanted to get very materialistic with the hypothesis, and he managed to slow them down since it is only a hypothesis, or speculation, and other explanations should be considered, the main writer of the article did that because they needed founding from a Health and aging association or something. So I understand the materialist background.
On the OBE and veridical observations…I just can think that some cases might be presented as an OBE, and might be something else? Like people in coma who hear thinks, experience touch and stuff and get wrong picture of the situation, like being attacked, or being rocked in a chair in the beach when moved…I have sleep paralysis when stressed, and I mix dreams and reality: I get the exact picture of the room I am in but what is happening is all wrong, I imagine people entering and doing things to me, or I see myself escaping my body (not floating sensation or any of that btw) and the things that were happening outside the room were totally wrong. I would never say these examples are OBE. However, that post talks about the guy observing and feeling detached. I don’t really know.
Also, the post is a bit sensationalist, and the guy being interviewed gives very little detail. The second comment to the post wrote a more detailed verified observation.
In the NDERF.com most of the details observed in the OBEs when part of the NDE are verified. But there are ver few that were wrong. So I wonder if those that were wrong where real OBEs. Or is our brain soooo good at deceiving us and reconstructing the scene…
I don’t know if it will do much good. I have a family member who is a neurosurgeon, he and other experts at his hospital tried to do an “unofficial” study on near-death experiences. Over the years some (very few) accounts of near-death experiences emerged, and specifically of OBEs. None related absolutely anything that made one think that what they saw was real. I’ve had sleep paralysis too, and I know what that is
Anthony, could you perhaps elaborate more on those results? How many OBEs, what were the accounts about, what they said they saw…if details are vage they proove nothing, you can’t discount something real if details are not given, it could very well be imagined.
Most researchers conducting studies like this find veridical observations on few occasions. Cause OBE don’t happen so often.
Verified perceptions in OBEs during a NDE have been studied over the years. Materialism tries to prove something else was happening that can account for the observations, but never dismissed them as not being real.
So I wonder about those cases from your brother in law. I would like to know more about them.
Sorry Mery for not answering earlier. According to what they told me, they tried many years ago to do a study on near-death experiences, among several colleagues. In many years the cases that came out were very, very few, with the typical experiences of seeing a light or tunnel and feeling very comfortable, but nothing more. The cases of OBE were even rarer, and when they asked what they could see during those events, nothing to suggest that consciousness really transcended the brain. None revealed anything clear about what was happening in the operating room or recovery room, no conversation or behavior that could have supported that
By the way guys. There is a brazilian youtube channel called, After all what are we?, it investigates NDE´s in a very scientific manner, by interviews with people that had the experiences. It´s fully made by scientists, one physic and a few doctors. Also, you dont need to worry about the idiom, because all the videos have subtittles in english. I think it´s a good sugesttion for this blog. Enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3NLkn1vW9IMbg9Gl6mHnZA
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@kozplayz very useful, thanks
Aye, terminal lucidity in these cases is yet another clue that summat is wrong with our current understanding of our experiences.
A candle brightens before going out. Human bodies have energy reserves that are sometimes temporarily unleashed at the end of life. It is an exciting physiological subject
a) Analogically similar to an incandescent light bulb brightening just before burning out.
b) Analogically similar to our eyesight getting more and more impaired as the lenses on our eyeglasses fracture, until a hole forms and we can see clearly again, but this time with our unaided vision rather than the vision through unimpaired lenses.
But, I don’t think “a” works with the brain. It’s the particular peculiarities of the way light bulbs function? “b” might not work with the brain either, but it’s less clear whether it does or not?
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Great discussion. To me it’s like something just bright and brilliant (in the sense of the light of the soul?) “decides” to force through from the mental space in which she/he has resided more and more since the onset of illness and then communicate. I do wonder if some help is provided from this space from another mental entity. Are there also veridical cases like NDEs? Maybe these new studies will hope to show this, but heck, it’ll be a long project.
Another Guardian article today, this one with Bruce Greyson and his new book. No TL mentioned though.
Is the dam going to break?
Once again …complex hallucinations while the Brain is inactive?
@David, rather the boot is now on the other foot for “hallucination explainers” to show how all NDE features can be reproduced. I just haven’t seen it. Not being antagonistic here. I know it’s a completely different issue but physicist Michio Kaku made the same point about the 3 recently released Pentagon UFO videos. The onus now is on deniers to explain in terms of human techno. – and nobody has. Apols. Orson, off topic.
I wonder if aliens have NDEs. Actually the premise behind one of the characters of my current novel is exactly on those lines…a UFO crashes into earth and the alien’s conscious survives and is trapped here.
@Orson Fascinating idea. Wonder if there are any signs here, like can an advanced consciousness just arrive at will? I just don’t know, once there’s a possibility of free C like in NDEs, have the aliens kind of mastered it?
I always wondered what happens to our consciousness because of AD or other types of dementia. I feel anxious at the thought that maybe these diseases can break consciousness or something like that, so it won’t be able to go where it goes after our death. I really hope that the only “thing” that is broken in this case is our brain as a transmitter. But I don’t know…
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Alan the deniers are as bad as religious fanatics now. UFOs are relevant here.
Also Dawkins is making religious tweets this weekend.
Btw the tic tac violated physical law. There is general relativity exception.
It was on Radar so some physicality and on the FLIR. And multiple witnesses saw it go from 80000 ft. To zero in seconds. Comparable to the audio in A 1 to me.
It takes only one to show something is off.
Rumors are the Pentagon has much more . On Twitter there was a great comment that said he was sick of the believers wonderland the ETI and the deniers
Excuse me if this is not appropriate, but what do you think of the CIA Gateway documents? It came out a few years ago, but still people who are surprised by what they report. Could it be related to consciousness?https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP96-00788R001700210016-5.pdf
That’s a new one. Looks speculative. There have been several releases of the CIAs remote viewing work. A lot was done under Hal Putoff. But there were others. There was the Men who State at Goats movie.
There conclusion after review by the usual sceptics was there is something going on but it’s fleeting hard to measure and not reliable for intelligence….a last ditch effort sort of thing.
It’s main to Parnia capturing that sound heard during brain shutdown. It’s tough
Not main similar.
Again this is what I mean. It’s not just materialistic. Think about it why on earth is it that people are able to have experiences like this if the “wiring” that allows brain function is destroyed? There is definitely no denying that there is something else going on.
Hello everyone, I’ve been studying the subject in the recent times but I was reading controversial stuff online about the AWARE II study, something like they found NDE was not trascendental but mainly physical. Dr. Sam Parnia always stated that in order to have a full running consciousness one should have pumping blood and oxygen in the brain in order to have a metabolic process and conciousness is a really demanding process that not just one part of the brain can create consciousness in the materialistic way of thinking of it. I do not know what to think anymore, I’m the first person who would like to have a meaning to this life, a life after life or at least an existence in a way after this life. I’m not a scholar, not a researcher neither a religious man but I’m costantly afraid of death and I do not know where I can find the hope. Science always stated that life on earth is just a casual bunch of chemical reactions and do not have any purpose or meaning, I would say that every human being when they don’t know the purpose of an event they always state that is meaningless or random. If someone can clear my ideas I’d be grateful. Thank you so much.
Tyler, I suggest you read through many of the other posts on this blog that address your questions.
Tyler, I hate to say it, but most likely NDEs are false and are only good for those making a quick buck from their writing about “hope,” “meaning,” etc. I still hope for good news from Parnia (like in some decades if it happens) but for now I’m not betting any money on it.
My advice is just to live your life the best you can. If you want money, make money. If you want a family, start one. If you want to be creative, get creative. Life isn’t meaningless because we’re here, and while we’re here we might as well make use of it. We have a never-ending debt to pay anyway to all those who came before us: don’t let those who built such a (sort of) comfortable life go in vain, if you get what I’m saying.
I also believe that most near death experiences are false, that’s why I am in favor of 90% of non-existence, but there is always a small margin that something surprises in studies like this, there is always a small hope
Only you tell the truth? all the others, hundreds of thousands of other people tell the false? It is your claim that lacks the slightest credibility, not that of others. Have you ever had near death experiences? Do you have scientific evidence that proves it to be false? … Absurd …
“Elizabeth Fenwick, co-author of 1996 book The Truth in the Light – An investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences, actually began her research believing that everything could be explained in scientific terms. But, after investigating, he concluded:
Even if scientific explanations can be found that can justify some aspects of the Near Death Experiences, I have not been able to find any explanation that is able to justify them all at the same time. All of them need to be explained as a whole and that’s what skeptics don’t do. None of the purely physical explanations work. (Skeptics) largely underestimate the fact that Near Death Experiences are not just the occurrence of a set of random events, but a highly organized and detailed affair (Fenwick 1995: 47). ”
I personally in my small way add that
the aware study is facing a much bigger phenomenon than it is, it is not that having answers from a single study, which by the way is very specific, you will be able to explain the NDEs as a whole, you may not realize that on aware are wrong expectations pouring in? With these erroneous expectations, the game is played by the convinced materialists … (those who have never even experienced the near death experience in person) who try to reduce the phenomenal NDE in a much narrower field, only physical and that clearly if not confirmed in an incontrovertible way WITH THE CURRENT MEANS it will play only to them. I therefore say to consider a study as aware as any other and that alone does not explain anything, whether the results are data with respect to others, favorable or not favorable to both views (materialistic or spiritual). At the most it will be able to explain what we are currently able to understand … which is really very little, I remember that we disown more than 95% of the reality that surrounds us. Greetings
we do not know more than 95% of reality (perhaps as I wrote in the previous post it was unclear what I meant).
Silvio, I respect all opinions, as I said, I don’t rule out anything. But currently there is no objective evidence, beyond anecdotes, mostly wrong or exaggerated to sell books in most cases. For example, if CERN ever finds the particles in that field that can wait for us after death, my certainty will undoubtedly be 100%. So far, I believe 90% that everything ends when our biological death arrives
You appear to be making an awful lot of unfounded assumptions.
Anthony said > “I also believe that most near death experiences are false”
You have no factual basis for making such a statement. There are now tens of thousands of reported (NDE’s) and hundreds of well documented verified veridical OBE/NDE’s. No serious researchers believe that these accounts can be classified as false (however you define that). They are real experiences, albeit subjective ones. The veridical NDE’s in addition, have been objectively verified.
Notwithstanding that there have now been seven prospectively conducted studies that have all confirmed near death experience as being inexplicable physiologically, even (materialist) mainstream researchers (Steven Laureys and his colleagues) quite recently confirmed that the memories of people who had had an NDE were more real than any other memories, even the most important memories of their lives.
Stephen Laureys :
Memories of important real-life events are more intense than those of dreams or thoughts, Laureys said. “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
“To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
“Sometimes, it is hard for them (the patients) to find words to explain it.”
Anthony said> “But currently there is no objective evidence, beyond anecdotes, mostly wrong or exaggerated to sell books in most cases.
This is another similar inaccurate, but quite typical attempt at mud throwing, hoping some of it sticks. In fact the verified NDE’s provide plenty of objective evidence to back up the claims of patients to be able to see what is occurring around them during their cardiac arrests (when they are effectively dead).
As to NDE’s being exaggerated to sell books, it may be the case in a few instances. However, it doesn’t follow that all books on the NDE are therefore fraudulent fantasies written to make money. You can’t draw such a conclusion.
Lastly, you are of course entitled to your opinion but you are also (as a proper sceptic), duty bound not to spread misinformation.
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I don’t think you respect the arguments of others, considering that you are calling hundreds of thousands of other human beings like you and me a liar.
Be warned. Every now and then I purge users who just throw unsubstantiated statements on to this blog to bate people. That is close to trolling. You are entitled to hold the position that you don’t believe NDEs are real, but just rubbishing the experience of so many without backing up with evidence is not worthy of space here.
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I did not express myself adequately, my English is not very good. I did not want to call people who have these experiences liars, but some who exaggerate them for a certain purpose. I explained it a few weeks ago in another comment above. I have a family member who is a doctor, I have been trying with colleagues for years to do a study on near-death experiences and death-bed phenomena. After several years, the cases were very rare, and very little elaborate compared to what usually appears in books. Neither true OBEs, nor seeing deceased relatives behind a tunnel, nor beautiful landscapes of prairies … None of that, in any case. Finally they put it aside and he always thinks the following: “the phenomenon exists, it is probably something intrinsic to the brain of what we still know, but those experiences are totally manipulated by those who want to do business”. And really, I believe him. As I said, I always leave a space to hope that there is something beyond, but very little
No relation in a gazillion years but Tau (ת) is the last Hebrew letter.
“I did not express myself adequately, my English is not very good.”
Your English was quite clear, actually. I think you “said” exactly what you intended to “say”, otherwise you would have corrected it yourself previously. You basically think that the majority of NDE’s are fraudulent.
Anthony said >”some who exaggerate them for a certain purpose”
The facts do not support that statement, though. The vast majority of properly researched and documented NDE’s in the literature are consistent with each other and do not contain exaggerations. They are also very accurately remembered (the report never changes) even a decade or more after the event, which is substantially different to dreams, hallucinations or confabulations.
There may be some bogus experiences in the literature of course. You would expect that, as you would expect some percentage of fraud in any set of reports, but if near death experiences were mostly the work of fantasists and liars, don’t you think that the whole phenomenon would have been consigned to the dustbin by now ?
Anthony said >” I have a family member who is a doctor, I have been trying with colleagues for years to do a study on near-death experiences and death-bed phenomena. After several years, the cases were very rare”
So your doctor friend and yourself have been trying to do a study ? Have you got any funding or ethical approval from the hospital committees there ? You say you’ve been TRYING to do a study but the cases were rare. But if you have only been TRYING to do a study, how do you know the cases are very rare ? You haven’t done the study yet ! Do you mean you’ve done some kind of pilot study ? It all sounds a bit unbelievable to me, sorry.
Anyway, whatever you and your doctor friend discover wherever you are in the world, is not going to alter the previous 45 years of consistent peer reviewed research and seven prospective studies, that have all demonstrated that NDE’s are not rare at all. They occur in approximately 10-20% of those whose hearts stop in cardiac arrest. There is no debate about this now, it’s just a fact.
Anthony said >” the phenomenon exists, it is probably something intrinsic to the brain of what we still know”
If that’s what your doctor friend wants to believe, that’s fine. It’s not been borne out by anyone else’s prospective research though, through nearly five decades (of research). In fact it’s just the opposite.
No purely physiological explanation for NDE’s has ever been found, and there are now over twenty (hypothetical explanations). Which I would suggest, strongly indicates that there probably isn’t going to be a physiological explanation. There might be, but it’s not looking too likely.
On the contrary, we might have to consider a transcendental one. The only explanation that actually fits the data, the explanation accepted by those who have actually had the experience, but the only one that mainstream science will simply not accept.
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I agree with Tim. Consistencies on NDE accounts/numbers/data/features have been shown in scientific research for the past 45 years (45!!). There are no studies showing contradicting results on the veracity of NDE accounts. In fact, materialistic researchers also accept these experiences as real memories and not fabricated. Tim forgot to mention that there are several studies (from Greyson to a team in Liege) that have demonstrated using different techniques (memory tests used in psychiatry, EEG and MRI) that memories from NDE are consistent with memories of a real event, they are not embellished nor fabricated.
Concerning the study carried out by your brother in law, I don’t personally doubt the veracity of his study. But when you do research and you get contradicting results you have to wonder why (different methods, maybe the patients didn’t want to go into deeper descriptions, problems with the interview, biased sample, etc). Usually it is because the studies are not comparable. It doesn’t mean that your study is not true (it is true for your sample, and only using those methods), but it is not extrapolable and results are not comparable. But the last a good researcher can say is that his results are the truth and ALL other researchers around the world are wrong. That is not very humble and of course is not scientific. I wonder if he published the study. If not, why? If he was sure his results were representative of the truth he should have considered them for publication. Otherwise it is publication bias, and all results, specially those contradicting previous findings should be published.
I don’t have personal experience with NDE accounts, but when I was a resident I had a patient who had had a NDE. He talked about it to anyone listening, and he described being out of body, floating by his body’s side while he was being wheeled in a gurney by a nurse. Unfortunately, my senior colleague forced him out of the conversation and gave me a look saying “stop talking to him”. I never got to know more, nor could I investigate it any further. But I assure you he was giving details, it was not vague.
In my country we have a saying (I am trying the best translation possible here…): You can always tell sooner the one lying than the one limping. I guess that after 45 years of research if NDE were fake someone would have noticed by now (specially skeptics).
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Thanks guys. Saved me the job, and did it better than I could have.
@Mery, I find the fact the patient was effectively silenced by the senior physician as quite offensive. The hostility of sceptics can border on the psychopathic in my view. Their desire to crush all query of anything that doesn’t adhere to the dogma of materialism is extremely unscientific.
I insist on what I said. For me, the people who live these experiences do not lie, those who sometimes alter these messages are the ones who try to do business with it. That is my opinion, I also heard something similar to Susan Blackmore, who had researched some of the most famous experiences in this regard, and sometimes there was no one to corroborate them. That is what this family member that I mentioned was able to verify, and to verify it with other colleagues in the profession. We will be attentive to what comes out of Sam Parnia, but for now, these issues have been stuck for a long time. In this video Blackmore comments something similar to what I say (minute 7:18), in another video that I saw a while ago he commented more things about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnFmNAi5YU8
@Anthony I have been a volunteer hospice worker who has sat at the bedside of many dying people. Terminal lucidity is extremely common. Almost happens every time. The person can be non responsive for days, basically in a coma and then come out of it for a day or half a day and be completely lucid and normal. I know that they will pass within a day or two of that event. My father did that as well and it was amazing. I sat on his bed and wrote down everything he said because he did have Alzheimers and every lucid word he spoke was so precious to me. He also spoke to decease family members that were in the room that I obviously could not see. It was never a hallucination of a person that was still living, I think that is an important point to note. He then passed away the next day.
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Discovered your blog about a month ago. I find it truly fascinating.
I am wondering if you think that this has any relation to the recent studies that at least some people who are in comas and persistent vegetative states are actually aware of everything going on, just unable to communicate or show any neural correlations of consciousness.
Do you think that if this is proved, basically this would throw out the theory that the NCC was causative as opposed to just correlative?
Great blog! Look forward to hearing more from you.
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Hi Nic, sorry for not replying sooner. I am very busy at the moment…involved in Alzheimer’s R & D which is entering a truly exciting era.
It is an interesting article. I didn’t read it all, but the gist is that some people in these states are conscious and aware. Firstly, what a terrifying thought. Secondly, I’m not really sure what this says about the nature of consciousness or the validity of NDEs. Clearly the brain is not active enough to support consciousness from the traditional understanding of mechanisms, but they seem to be suggesting alternative mechanisms. Moreover, while the brain activity is significantly reduced, there is still significant amounts of brain activity.
“Recent studies show that metabolic activity in the brains of vegetative state patients is typically 40% that of neurologically intact individuals. This is comparable to the activity in the brains of healthy individuals under general anaesthetic and quite unlike ‘brain dead’ patients who have no metabolic neural activity (measured by positron emission tomography, PET).”
This is very different from an NDE obviously and I guess this is where the study might link in with Terminal lucidity. We know that patients with semi-functional brains that have been significantly impaired due to neurodegeneration are capable of conscious lucidity for at least a short period, and maybe in some of these patients in a permanent vegetative state, that is what is happening. Interesting find, thank you for sharing it.
You posted the video above of Sue Blackmore being interviewed in “Closer to the truth”, about near death experiences. Blackmore, unfortunately is prone to making erroneous statements sometimes. At about 8.27, she states that there is no picture of the tennis shoe (Maria’s shoe) that exists and therefore the whole thing might have just been a hoax etc.
In fact the ACTUAL shoe can be clearly seen here in the video re-enactment below at 36.20. The full sequence begins at 32.53.
The famous case of Maria’s shoe has become something of a euphemism (amongst sceptics) for a good story that never really happened the way it was presented.
Typically, some even suggested that the shoe never actually existed, simply because Kimberley Sharp couldn’t produce it (as if that would have made any difference) when asked (she’d actually later lost it)
From Surviving death by Leslie Kean :
The story has not changed an iota since day one, even though over the course of time, I forgot about a Nike Logo on the shoe. Years later I came across a filmed re-enactment of the event shown on television using the actual tennis shoe. Sceptics have claimed that the shoe never existed but in fact we do have this filmed documentation.
The film shows me as much younger in very dated clothes, thus belying the suggestion that this was a recently filmed piece.
The story of the shoe on the ledge has become well known. It spread to other hospitals, then to other cities and states, primarily by nurses who invited me to their locations and conferences to speak about it. Absolutely nobody expressed anything else but wonder and feelings of inspiration in response, at least to me.
Many years later, the sceptics came on board with their opinions, but they were all people with a prior agenda and none were associated with the case. I had no problem addressing their objections and laying them to rest.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XyAQQfuL1Q The shoe can be seen at 36.20.
As usual Tim says it best.
You are too kind, but thanks anyway.
Mery said >” Tim forgot to mention that there are several studies (from Greyson to a team in Liege) that have demonstrated using different techniques (memory tests used in psychiatry, EEG and MRI) that memories from NDE are consistent with memories of a real event”
Hi again, Mery, I did actually mention it in a post higher up (Steven Laureys and his Liege coma team). Thanks for your vote of confidence, much appreciated ! I do hope I’m not being too hard on Anthony but I don’t know any other way to put it when somebody keeps repeating something that isn’t correct.
I must admit I tend to ignore the “it’s not true because I don’t believe it” kind of statement now. I suspect some of them are trolling, and if I see it too much I will block them as all it does is stir people up. Thanks though Tim and Mery for stepping in and stating the objective reality of the sum of research on NDEs.
No worries, Ben ! Just a thought, sceptics like Anthony would benefit from reading Bruce Greyson’s new book. It’s a summary of his 45 years investigating NDE’s and is a very good read.
Indeed, I am half way through the book. Very grounded, it is like he is sitting with you on a couch and explaining in a very interesting way his life as a researcher and everything that came to his mind. I really recommend it, no matter what you expect to find. You always learn something with books like this.
I have bought the book…will be reading it soon. I have nothing but admiration for the likes of Greyson, Sabom, Parnia, Van Lommel etc. True pioneers.
I’m honest, I’m a novice in these issues compared to you, and there are certain things that seem very implausible, but I do not rule out absolutely anything. I read that if there were some kind of field after our physical death, CERN would have detected it, and it has not. What is your opinion? Thanks
Not just pioneers, but also independent researchers that came up with the same, replicated (unlike a significant amount of studies in psychology and even neuroscience these days) results in this field. Despite all the bullying and dismissal in the beginning.
Nic, do you believe the bullying as ended? I do not. The establishment is fundamentally materialist, particularly in academia, and they virulently oppose anything that threatens their worldview. They care not for scientifically reproducible knowledge if it shows they have built their world around lies.
The bullying won’t end for a while. The tables are starting to turn however hardcore materialists will continue to push witht the goal of having most of the population think like them.
The bullying may not have ended but at least the acceptance that these experiences exist are slowly being admitted and even added to medical textbooks.
Even if you look at the American Psychological Association, they now admit that “Spiritual, biomedical, and contextual lines of explanation are still in play, and there is no solid evidence to support the proposition that NDEs prove survival after death.”
That is a big change from these are people making stories up to hallucinations at best.
This field has slowly gone from New Age hippie nonsense to ok, what do these experiences mean.
I am not sure if I would agree that the establishment is fundamentally materialist, I would say the media and popular representations of science are. Every Pew poll shows that over half of scientists believe in God (and therefore are by definition not materialists) as well. It actually goes up the younger the scientists are!
Anthony said>” I read that if there were some kind of field after our physical death, CERN would have detected it, and it has not. What is your opinion? Thanks
My answer to that would be that the mind and it’s “thoughts” are not made out of tiny particles such as atoms (protons neutrons electrons) or even smaller quarks. So smashing particles to pieces in the (CERN) particle accelerator was never going to find it.
I would ask you a question in return. How does the interaction of chemicals and electricity across the synapses of the brain, give rise to the mind and it’s thoughts ?
We haven’t the faintest idea of how a three pound lump of protoplasm (meat) creates consciousness and our unique sense of sense of self which makes us into who we are.
A sense of self that persists continuously throughout our lives, even though the cells which make up our brain and bodies are completely renewed regularly. And we don’t need to know what the mind is made out of in order to determine if it is separate from the brain. All we need to do is pay attention to data that points towards consciousness being present when the brain is offline or not functioning.
That is what is so fascinating about near death experiences. There shouldn’t be any reports of clinically dead patients seeing anything and yet there are now thousands.
Ideologically driven sceptics like Blackmore and Shermer (apologies if you are not) do everything they can to discredit these accounts, not because they have any good reason to scientifically (science is a method not a position), only because they know very well what the implications for their “religion” of materialism are.
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To further add I remember seeing this ‘field’ theory somewhere about our conciousness being in a some sort of field when in the body. However that theory was not for survivalist, I found a paper which discussed this theory which I then sent to Dr greyson. The reply was quite amusing.
Another point. For Anthony, I find it increasingly hard to take you seriously, with our first encounter you claimed with certainty that parnias aware study has failed, based on virtually no grounds. Your reasons for claiming that most of these experiences are fake or fabricated or to do with the brain are never supported with evidence/reasoning so far the only two things you have continued to iterate are: cern would have detected, my brother in law did a study. Literally nothing else.
This is not to be taken as an insult however there’s a saying ’empty barrels make the most noise’ . Frankly I am not fussed about your beliefd but its hard to have a good discussion when your baiting unproductive arguments.
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Tim, as always, excellent. I use computer analogies in my book. The brain, a 3lb lump of protoplasm as you so eloquently describe, is in essence a mechanical device like a computer. The consciousness has similarities to the information and software in the computer…it can exist independently of the specific computer, however unlike digital bits, the consciousness does not need any physical host or source of energy to exist or persist…or at least from our current understanding.
Thank you ! Not sure I deserve it, though, but anyway. Yes, that seems to be a reasonable analogy (ref the computer) I would have thought.
The pseudo sceptics are really getting desperate. One of them had Lue Elizondo on his podcast . Our ran the Pentagon UFO program and he tried to tell Lue the US Navy couldn’t identify our own aircraft.
Its good times are changing, but I find i still find it slightly disheartening that they state ‘no solid evidence’ its a slap in face to researchers such as, Kenneth ring, Michael sabom, Peter fenwck etc.
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I would say 25 years ago the APA would not have even had an entry here and would have dismissed it as parapsychology or would have stated that these are just hallucinations. But my training in science (as an engineer) has taught me that we must hold our scientific opinions, especially opinions when the field (such as this) is still very much in its infancy, tentatively.
@Joshua I live right next to Fermilab (the collider before CERN was built). CERN has absolutely nothing to say about what happens when you die.
What CERN is trying to do is find evidence for so-called Theory of Everything in physics. All it did was find the Higgs Boson, which was predicted back in the 1970s. It did not find parallel universes that the media love speculating about, it did not find anything else interesting, and string theory is a dead end. The parallel worlds that were speculated again have nothing to do with this topic. Even if they were to find that Theory of Everything, “these theories generally do not account for the apparent phenomena of consciousness or free will” which is basically the subject of this blog.
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Nicely put. Quantum mechanics is a fascinating subject, but it provides no answers to the questions around the origin of consciousness. It may however provide answers as to how the consciousness interacts with the physical realm one day. I briefly discuss this in my book which I will relaunch once we have some better defined output from AWARE II or III.
I think It has Robert Lanza who said that consciousness could survive physical death if parallel universes existed. For now, there is no evidence that neither one nor the other exists, we will see in the future
Ben, I really look forward to reading your book.
I have actually just finished a book on how quantum theory and how it may relate to consciousness and free will (proper book, not a Deepak Chopra type). John Horgan at Scientific American has been writing a lot about this lately as well.
Basically neuroscience has a hard problem of consciousness and quantum mechanics has a hard problem of observation. Could the two be related? Maybe. Stapp-Eccles-Wheeler-Beck theory sounds plausible.
Also – is Parnia really the only one in the world doing an AWARE type study? I find he seems to be a bit too influenced by what people think about him. Are there no active studies being done by others (Beauregard, Schwartz come to mind).
Lastly, sorry for jumping topics on this, but looks like a small case of TL in this article. Not a full blown case, but still, a case where consciousness appears to take place when our current models say it should not.
Have you heard of Orch OR theory by hammerhof, if I remember clearly the discovery of microtubules in the brain in 2014 provided good evidence for the hypothesis.
Yes, I have heard of the Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR theory.
There are 2 ways of looking at how a quantum based approach to consciousness would work. The Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR postulate is the collapse of the wave function causes consciousness. Essentially a form of panpsychism (which has been gaining popularity lately in consciousness studies).
This is contrasted to the Von Neumann-Wigner interpretation, which is essentially the Copenhagen interpretation taken to its logical end. Consciousness causes collapse. Here we would need to posit a metaphysically simple, ontologically primitive consciousness, soul, or psyche. That is asking for a lot given that Occam’s Razor says that we should not create more entities than necessary, but hey, it may be necessary to create that entity in the end if that is what NDEs, TL, and quantum mechanics suggest.
Max Tegmark was the one who claimed that the “warm, wet brain” was inhospitable for quantum effects to be anything meaningful. He was more or less disproven back in 2014, when it was showed that the warm, wet brain could host quantum phenomena after all. Note that could does not necessarily mean does in a meaningful way. There are also other places besides microtubules where this could take place.
I’ve heard Robert Lanza on the radio a few times but had no idea what he was talking about. Now I think I do.
Lanza appears to be coming from Hugh Everett’s many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. It says that at every wave function collapse, what happens is that the world splits into separate worlds (many worlds theory). It is a very weird theory and violates my common sense.
The founder of this interpretation came up with this thought experiment and it seems that Lanza is taking it literally to argue Biocentrism.
Note though that there are 2 different types of multiverses, multiverses that come from some versions of inflation or string theory (2 in the below link) and multiverses from the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (3). CERN could have found multiverse in category 2, not category 3, and it did not. Lanza is talking about category 3. Just to explain the remainder of the picture, 1 is not a multiverse and 4 says that math is a universe in itself.
Click to access multiverse_sciam.pdf
I myself am not convinced at the many worlds theory or the multiverse theory in any case. These worlds are almost entirely unprovable and unfalsifiable.
My intuition and what I think NDEs suggest is a form of quantum interactive dualism which has consciousness, mind, soul, or psyche in a separate, basically Platonic realm altogether, interacting with the physical world through quantum mechanics. CERN would have had nothing to say about whether this was true or not.
It is very difficult for me to understand this theory of parallel universes, it would be something exciting to be like that. Parnia once said in a YouTube video that, in his opinion, consciousness survived the death of the physical body, at least for the first few moments. From there, he himself said that he did not know what would happen to consciousness. Consciousness may remain a bit attached to the human body and its experiences, until all brain cells finish dying, which I understand does not happen immediately. It is an exciting topic
I think we may have gone a bit overboard with the multiverse discussion. I myself am very very skeptical of the existence of parallel universes as described in the article above myself. I was just explaining that the parallel universe that CERN did not find would have had nothing to do with Lanza’s idea of a multiverse anyways.
Parnia’s comment underlies the fact that every study done on NDEs show that 10-20% have lucid conscious memories when the brain is not supposed to produce them (most models such as IIT, GWT all require highly integrated areas to be functioning).
Your comment on the what would happen to consciousness long term shows the importance of anecdotally veridical results and the AWARE type pictures – it is to show that what people are reporting is not some unknown, undetected residual function in the brain. We have many anecdotally veridical results, but none from the AWARE type just yet, mostly due to too small of a sample size. Hence my question as to are there other studies from besides Parnia.
If we do end up having a positive hit, then all bets are off. To quote Thomas Huxley, “The great tragedy of Science is the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact”
Anthony, you have tonlidten to the video again he very explicitly says, he knows it carries on for a few minutes. Why? Because that was all he could observe if he said it carries on forever or disappears after a short time that would be impossible to tell. Why? Because he can’t observe that parnia may very well believe in an afterlife but he can’t say that, as he said ‘it doesn’t matter what I believe in’ he only states facts. There have been examples of OBE’s lasting hours and think there was one that lasted a day.
Also why would the conciousness remain attached to the body. The conciousness has nothing to do with the body cells, only thr brain does. The brain is so incapacitated that a conciousness should not be produced/sustained yet we see this in the phenomenon. When you also see the NDE literature we always have the same similar things despite some differences. Loving light, tunnel, communication by thought, told its not your time/made a mistake, told about previous incarnations, life reviews. This shouldn’t be boiled down to naturalistic thinking as some are trying to do, there is something otherworldly at play here and we are being intellectually dishonest if we think its just hallucinations or fabrications.
If those are not hallucinations, how is it possible that people who have near death experiences see people who are still alive in this world? In the case of deathbed phenomena, there are people who see their loved ones who died years or decades ago, but they also sometimes see their friend or cousin who lives 200 kilometers away. How can that be explained beyond delusions or hallucinations? Pure interest, I don’t want to argue, just learn
Those cases are very incredibly rare,I cant remember where but a statistic did show around 98% see people who are dead or are known to be dead. That still doesn’t distract from it if these where really hallucinations it should be about 50 60
@Anthony heres a link https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc799333/m2/1/high_res_d/vol16-no2-101.pdf
Related to blind people having NDE’s
It always caught my attention in these cases, that blind people from birth had these experiences, and knew how to differentiate colors and objects that they could not know or have references
Yeah its really amazing I also have some studies lying around somewhere on my drive of cases of deaf people having OBE’s. And a case when a person was healed of cabral palsy without any surgery right after they had an NDE. Its exciting stuff really.
This happened to me with my mother who had dementia, she was in a nursing home, and aboit two weeks before her death I was there one night when suddenly she came back to normal and said a few personal things to me, this lasted only a minute or so but did happen. The strangest thing was though that when this event occured she seemed to have a glow about her which is very hard to describe, as though she had been scrubbed and scrubbed really clean. one of the nurses who was sat across from me with another patient said, look at her with him, I dont know if she was refering to this sort of glow or the fact that she had come back to normal, has anyone else heard of this ?
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Hi Ron, thanks for posting. That is a beautiful story, and one that has been told many times over. I work in Alzheimer’s disease now, and terminal lucidity is a not physiologically explicable. My father died of AD,if he ever had this moment of terminal lucidity I never heard about it That moment with your mother must be very precious to you, and that is why you had it.