AwareofAware

Evolving news on the science, writing and thinking about Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

Of Mice and Men (or rats and humans)

Thank you Jordan for letting me know that the Parnia lab has added a video of the AHA presentation to their YouTube channel. Here is the link below:

Audio with slides of Dr Parnia’s presentation of the AWARE II study at AHA November 2022

First of all, the slides were ever so slightly different from the ones that I posted a couple of weeks ago, but there was nothing fundamentally different in the message. The presentation was very balanced and factual in nature. He is a very good presenter and extremely credible. Key points:

  1. Around the 5 minute mark he discusses recruitment and details the huge issues they have with getting significant numbers to the interview stage. While this is frustrating for everyone who wishes to get enough data to be able to draw definitive conclusions, we must acknowledge that the Parnia lab are doing their very best to get results.
  2. At 10.20 he discusses the EEG data, and this is where the title of this post has come from. We have data from EEG in rats suggesting that there is some brain activity, and we have human data from previous case studies and now AWARE II suggesting “spikes” in EEG activity, including some gammar, which he specifically states is “usually associated with consious thought processes, recall of memory and so on…”. It is important to note that the amount of gammar is not presented.
  3. At 11.35 he makes a very intriguing comment in the discussion on implicit learning. He acknowledges that the sample size was too small and that we need larger studies to get better information on testing the implicit learning aspect, but he said this: “we had one case that worked“. Nothing more. Mmm.
  4. He spends a considerable amount of time on the fact that most patients when discussing their life review focus on morality and ethics rather than religion. He suggests this is curious and intimates that this is not something easily explained by medical or scientific understanding.

There is very little for the dualist in his presentation, but without exceptionally strong supporting evidence, I would not expect that at a scientific congress like this one. He gives lots of meat to the materialists, more so than we thought. The suggested implication that the EEG spikes are associated with consious processes and memory recall is provocative to us, especially without any specific evidence that links the two seperate observations (they may not even be in the same people). I believe he is giving attendees the opportunity to think what they want of this, and many will go down the rat route and mix dubious association with actual causation. It is unclear from this whether he believes this to be the case, but given his past statements, I suspect not.

As stated previously, in the absence of time stamped EEG data correlating with specific recollections, the EEG data is thought provoking, but does not inform us what is actually happening. I very much hope the paper will have more on this.

But what about the case “that worked”? No further details were provided, and I suspect he is saving that for the final publication. Is he referring to the 1 visual or 2 auditory recollections? Why did it “work”? Watch this space, but suffice to say, once again Parnia is leaving us in a state of expectant limbo!

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258 thoughts on “Of Mice and Men (or rats and humans)

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  1. This is my first time writing here but since I have thought about what they mean by implicit and explicit learning a lot, here is what I think: by the one case that “worked” I would guess they mean the case with acurate recall of the auditory stimulus. As “implicit recall” are memories that one does not conciously know about, I think it’s likely that they test for it by asking patients if they have seen/ heard anything (explicit recall) and if they cannot remember to have done so, ask them to identify the correct stimulus out of several (the right fruit out of 10 for example). It’s likely that the patient with correct auditory recall denied any auditory awareness but was able to identify the audio later. That would make it implicit (doesn’t remember having heard anything) recall (recalls the correct stimulus)

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  2. Valentin on said:

    Wondering why we need such process at all from evolutionary viewpoint?

    Liked by 1 person

    • No one has ever provided a sensible explanation of how NDEs provide survival advantage, especially given how rare they were before modern CPR.

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      • Valentin on said:

        I think you can propose, that some “Moral high” person which survived NDE, return and prophet new moral ground for society, but yeah – before XX century it was exceptionally rare + if it is correlated to age ( who will care about child or even 20s experience)…

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      • They don’t necessarily need to.

        It could just be some weird process that happens. There’s plenty of things in our bodies or in other animals that don’t offer an advantage or are even a hindrance.

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    • Also, can you imagine the number of different genetic mutations that would be required IF the consciousness is a result of physiology.

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      • Valentin on said:

        I prefer quantum physics paradox – there is either multiverse ( which is huge metaphysic by own) or we need accept some non materialistic viewpoint in this Universe 🙂

        + what about all those “before death” visions, which in some sense is related to NDEs

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  3. So is he officially taking a materialist view now?

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  4. Paul Battista on said:

    More research is definitely needled. I’m hoping for either aware 3 or a continuance of aware 2. I’ve been studying near death experences for 30 years now. How do you explain veridical perception and peak in Darien experences. Just to namexa few. I’m not saying that there’s not a scientific answer, just that at this point in time, I don’t know what it is. I also recommend reading Dr. Bruce Greyson book After. It’s a good read on the su and ofcNDES

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  5. Charlie on said:

    Good, very neutral and medical presentation, as would be expected at a respected medical conference. I do think it’s interesting how he did sneak in some non materialist hints in his conclusions, speaking of disinhibition, the lack of explanation for moral and ethical reflections, and reiterating the “truth” of these experiences. It sounds like he got some remarkable testimonials even if OBEs are lacking. In all, I think he just does a great job of speaking to his audience and he is refreshingly unbiased

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  6. I do feel there is a heavy physicalist leaning in this presentation. The questions is how does this relate to previous statements by Parnia, which are clearly not in the same vein. I also wonder how much of this has to do with the need to keep attention and funding dedicated to the project. Given how little data it produced I imagine they need to bang up the pots a bit more to keep attention on the project. I guess we’ll see if Parnia’s statements are a qualitative change. Either way, as other commenters have expressed, this does little to explain reports of veridical perception, and I’m not altogether sure this (activity recorded by eeg) is evidence against the notion of survival of consciousness.

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    • I’ll correct myself to say that, after hearing it multiple times, it’s not necessarily a materialist or physicalist interpretation, it’s just that he’s relaying data in a very dry manner.

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  7. Is there details about the duration of these “spikes?” Given the duration of ndes an occasional spike would sound inadequate given such detailed recollections.

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    • Hi Tony, nice to have you with us. He says the majority of time is flat line, an he does not give much detail on the nature of these spikes except to suggest that the EEG readouts could be indicative of higher processes such as consciousness or memory formation. I suspect the details to support this statement will be in the paper. Until we see that it is impossible to draw any definitive conclusions though.

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  8. Eduardo on said:

    Parnia, as is his characteristic of late, using ambiguous language, unclear, and even contrary to what he stated in his essay to Bigelow in November 2021….

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    • He’s speaking to his audience. I am a committed christian, and very certain in my beliefs, but I rarely discuss it here because it because it is inappropriate for this audience. To other audiences I say how information from NDEs, when combined with other “data” points to the truth of the gospels. If I did that here, I would lose most people because it is not why people come here, and therefore I would be disrespecting them. The same for Parnia. When he talking to an audience open to the understanding that NDEs are “real”, he speaks much more like his Bigelow essay, but to a sceptical audience he is much more factual and allows for the possibility that his data could be interpreted in another way.

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      • I don’t totally agree with you, Ben. Parnia should be clear and not generate confusion among open-minded skeptics. Pseudo-skeptics do not worry me as they are closed-minded…Parnia in some expressions even incurs in medical contradictions.

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      • I am trying to be diplomatic and give him the benefit of the doubt. In truth I found his presentation was very balanced given the data he presented. He was not discussing veridical OBEs etc therefore he was unable invoke dualism in any shape or form given the data from AWARE II.

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      • Eduardo on said:

        As I stated Ben, this is a sample of the confusion generated by Sam Parnia.
        According to Parnia’s statements in Neo .Life the peaks of these waves in question.
        1) emerge for a very short period of time, and
        2) do so when the rest of the brain has a flat background.
        This leads one to believe that these peaks are far from reaching and reflecting a lucid consciousness such as an NDE.
        This means that at best it would be an intermittent consciousness.”
        And we know that an intermittent consciousness does not occur in NDEs, whose accounts are almost always about a continuous, rather than fragmentary and discontinuous, experience.
        That is why I argue Parnia should be clearer and not so enigmatic.

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      • I sympathise with your frustrations Eduardo and as you know have stated as much myself.

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      • Eduardo on said:

        Ben here is another inconsistency and ambiguity from Sam Parnia. In the written report of the November 6 meeting in Chicago it reads:
        “As the brain shuts down, many of its natural braking systems are released. Known as disinhibition, this provides access to the depths of a person’s consciousness, including stored memories, thoughts from early childhood to death, and other aspects of reality.”
        And now in the video, just as he did when it was the case of the 87-year-old man of Zemmar and team, when talking about disinhibition he states that it is disinhibition but of “some parts of the brain”, and not of the “consciousness”.
        In the first statement there is room for a dualistic interpretation…in the second not…Parnia only creates confusion…It seems to me that, besides being a good scientist, one must be a good communicator. We must not forget that the launching of the Aware in 2008 took place at the United Nations.

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  9. Sam has to be one of the biggest fence sitters in an area I’ve ever seen. After all these years I still don’t really know where he stands with this.

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    • I think it is good that we don’t know for sure where he stands, but we have a pretty good idea from his writing outside of the medical scientific format. Even the consensus statement gave lots if room for a dualism understanding. But a convention…without hard data. Nope.

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  10. I’m just excited for the paper to come out and for this to all be done to be honest. While it’ll certainly be interesting to see if the EEG activity matches up to the hits, that’s about all I’m in it for at this point.

    I’ve definitely been unnerved by this whole thing, seeing how many people have frantically been speculating on Parnia’s own opinions on his results and whether or not he’s secrelty a physicalist, dualist or whatever at heart. Parnia is a scientist, his philosophical opinions are not privvy to anyone and nor should they be, he keeps them professionally seperate from his research and we should respect him for it.

    Plus people need to stop being so paranoid about the whole thing, the chips fall where they may and that’s fine. No need to get obsessed about it.

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  11. Thanks for link and new thread Orson. Also I found it interesting him talking about morality/ethics in life reviews (he answers a question also at the end during the Q and A). Logically, I suppose, there are these options,

    1. Something in biological evolution (materialistic). I saw a general 2021 paper, “The evolutionary origin of near-death experiences: a systematic investigation” – they suggest death-feigning to explain NDEs. I couldn’t see if they had “explained” life reviews.
    2. Expanding 1., still materialistic, a higher purely internal pseudo-soul overseeing your life. An illusion for some reason.
    3. A non-material higher inner soul of ourselves guiding us, or an external soul agent (which *is* reported often) doing the guiding.

    Why there’s the feeling of how you treat others and feel what they feel (something Sam has repeatedly emphasized over the years) in the review makes more sense with 3. An internal or external teaching. I kind of think statistically that there are so many mental phenomena that could occur from a materialist POV, the fact that life reviews happen constantly, I think, rules out a statistical fluke explanation, ruling out 1. or 2.

    1. and 2. also ignore firstly, parapsychological evidence (peer-reviewed overview in American Psychologist, Cardena 2018) which I’ve never seen any materialist paper on NDE explanations cite and secondly, at least one veridical NDE (only one is needed! – take your pick – one white crow proves not all crows are black), also not cited by materialist papers. Again, Sam has before said people report things they shouldn’t ordinarily be able to see.

    I suspect he’s gradually and with subtlety easing people into evidence for a paradigm shift.

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    • Let’s hope he is. It is possible he setting the stage with tidbits of evidence that may point to materialism, to show that argument has been considered, then if strong “scientifically verified” evidence emerges to support the non-materialistic understanding he will show he is balanced.

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  12. So, we still lack evidence of conscious experience without correlated neural activity in the brain. The claim has been that the brain shuts down after cardiac arrest, and therefore that the conscious experiences reported in NDEs occur without correlated brain activity. Now we see that the brain generates spikes of activity normally associated with conscious experience in the people who report having been conscious. This is to be expected if the current working hypothesis of the scientific community is correct: the mind is what the brain does. The life review may be the brain searching through all memories for a similar crisis situation / disruption of blood supply, so if found it can do whatever it did to survive the last time. There is nothing in this presentation which suggests to me the need to postulate substance dualism.

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    • Hi Vidar,

      This statement is incorrect:

      “Now we see that the brain generates spikes of activity normally associated with conscious experience in the people who report having been conscious.”

      There is no association or correlation with any reports of consciousness from this or any other study looking at REDs/TEDs/ADEs/NDEs. The association of the signals is with normal reports of conscious activity.

      Hope that is clear.

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      • Parnia says from 10:20 – 11:00 that the spikes seem to be biomarkers of consciousness in “these patients”, and this is right after he talked about patients having a life review. Previously it was believed that the brain remained completely dormant 20 seconds after a cardiac arrest. Now we see that it is not entirely dormant, and that spikes of different kinds of brain activity can occur as late as 60 minutes after CA. There no longer seems (to me, anyway) to be any need to assume that experience is happening without brain activity. To me it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that the conscious NDE-episodes are correlated with the spikes in brain activity.

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      • Given that only 2 of the patients who were interviewed (26 in total) had EEGs that were readable, gamma (and likely) alpha across the whole study is low and that only 6 of the 26 had NDE like recollections, I would be gobsmacked if he was able to show that these NDEs were correlated with EEG activity associated with normal levels of consciousness. However, you reminded of why his presentation did rankle me a bit. His wording is suggestive of association of EEG activity with report of consciousness and that all gets muddled with NDEs, but could equally be CIPRIC. We will just have to wait till the paper, but giving the low number of readable EEG printouts, I am putting my money on there not being any correlation with a TED let alone a time stamped correlation with an NDEs with full OBE.

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      • I agree that it will probably be difficult to prove that one particular episode was correlated with a measured spike, unless a patient heard something that can be timestamped. But the larger point I think remains. The brain doesn’t completely and permanently shut down after a cardiac arrest, at least during resuscitation. Hence, the decades old argument that patients having an NDE during cardiac arrest proves conscious experience can happen without a functioning brain no longer holds water. I would love for this not to be so, but this seems to me to be what the evidence suggests.

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      • We could do this one forever, and it’s been done on this blog many times. To resolve this issue you need one or more of the following:

        1. An NDE correlated with EEG readout with activity that is consistent with conscious activity or

        2. A time stamped OBE with flatline EEG.

        Either of these would provide very strong evidence for one side or other of the argument. At the moment, I believe we have neither. Random delta and theta waves with a wee bit of alpha and gamma here and there in patients who were never interviewed is completely meaningless.

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      • Charlie on said:

        I agree Ben but I think we have to acknowledge the results challenge a position NDE supporters have held for years that brain activity should be flat after 20-30 seconds. Of course as you said there’s no way to connect EEG spurts to these phenomenal experiences. But it’s something I can see why NDE supporter opinions are being challenged based on their prior arguments. I have to really wonder how much the population studied (cardiac patients being resuscitated) might influence the duration of the EEG findings

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      • We have known about threats for ages, and the coma patients who died and who had EEG after death. With good CPR I would expect some flickers of brain activity. Correlated EEG-NDE aside, no EEG could ever account veridical OBEs. That has always been my fall back.

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      • I just don’t know what to think, really. Parnia’s fence sitting is confusing the heck out of me. Why can’t he just say it’s a little bit of both? That’s what it all sounds like.

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    • Valentin on said:

      Mind searching?

      Check how mind really working in sportsmens for instance ( reaction time and other things). With this analogy you must have NDE every time when something new hit you ( like tooth removal, big sports injury and etc

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      • Well, I had a friend who was in a car accident, and he told me that in the few seconds before the crash, he saw stills of his whole life flashing before his eyes. He obviously survived the incident, and he did so without any lasting damage. He did not think of it as a life review, or an ethical evaluation of choices. He just saw images from his whole life flashing before his eyes right before the crash. To me, the brain searching for similar episodes to find a way out of a threatening situation seems reasonable. It is of course nothing more than an hypothesis, but it makes evolutionary sense.

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    • Hi Vidar, “the mind is what the brain does. The life review may be the brain searching through all memories for a similar crisis situation / disruption of blood supply, so if found it can do whatever it did to survive the last time.”

      Occurs to me a guided life review that’s often reported is congruent with the mind being a separate phenomenon from the brain. And the entity doing the guiding would of course be a distinct mind without a material element. Then how would an evolutionary or at least material argument fit the reports of such an external agent doing the guiding? Why go to all the bother of seemingly and quite convincingly fooling the experiencer that they were having a real experience, something which they also report? In itself, that would be quite a trick for a barely functioning brain to achieve.
      It also seems your premise possibly implies a panicking NDEer during the experience, but I haven’t come across this in reports, rather accompanying strong feelings of peace.

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      • No, I don’t think panic is necessary, and my friend certainly did not describe panicking. Many people are unusually calm during life threatening situations, but have a reaction later, when the danger has passed. As for the guide and all that, it depends on how much actually happens during the experience, and what the brain perhaps adds later. It is very good at filling in blanks to make sense out of an experience. It may later confabulate to add meaning to the life flashing before one’s eyes. But of course, I don’t know that it is not a glimpse of the afterlife. It does, however, seem strange that NDEs are so different across different cultures. In Thailand and India, people meet lord Yama and see what Hindus and Buddhists might expect to encounter in the afterlife. Meeting dead relatives is exceedingly rare, because these cultures believe in rebirth, and so there is an expectation that relatives will have moved on to the next life. So, I think there might be a sort of skeleton experience which happens for a very brief period during the dying process, and if one survives, the brain embellishes and fleshes out the core experience in accordance with cultural expectations. Whether the core experience is based on something truly outside the body or is difficult to say. I guess we’ll find out when we die, or perhaps not 🙂

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      • “It does, however, seem strange that NDEs are so different across different cultures.”

        This is incorrect because there are core features across cultures. From the Horizon Research Foundation.
        http://www.horizonresearch.org/near-death/intro-to-the-nde-phenomena/religion-culture-and-near-death-experiences/

        “Now, the central features of an NDE have been recorded throughout history (3), (4) and across numerous cultures and religious groups. Reports of an NDE have also been described by atheists as well as those with a particular faith, whether it be as practicing members or non practicing members of a particular religion.

        Some studies have been carried out with the aim of studying near
        death experiences in non-Western cultures.

        Historically, events closely resembling a near death experience have been described by Bolivian, Argentinean and North American Indians and also in Buddhist texts, Islamic texts and accounts from China, Siberia and Finland. The most common features are:

        a) Having an out of body experience;

        b) A reunion with ancestors and departed friends;

        c) An experience of light accompanied by joy and peace;

        d) A border or dividing line between the living and the dead.”

        Common features, you see. One point, your view would only be NDEs are hallucinations, but Parnia does not say this.

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    • Valentin on said:

      About your friends ” quick NDE” – what about “moral lessons and etc” there? Was he changed by this experience? Looks like he simply skipped it?? 🙂

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    • An important thing to note is that AWARE only studies patients that have undergone CPR because it is the easiest situation to record brain activity in near death events. The famous Pam Reynolds case is an example of someone undergoing an NDE when there is no brain activity, with there being at least one other instance of someone having an NDE when undergoing the same procedure. Brain activity also doesn’t account for veridical experiences, though there were unfortunately no hits during AWARE2.

      Pretty much everything that has come out of this is stuff we already knew. We already knew brain activity can sporadically continue for someone undergoing CPR, the question is whether or not this is enough to accomodate for all the experiences that happen during NDEs. I would also say that the searching for another similar situation idea of life review has been critiqued by other near death researchers.

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    • (Dunno where my first comment went… trying again)

      The interesting thing about these NDE’s within medical settings, was the fact that patients were recalling their experiences following a confirmed cardiac arrest, and that they sometimes recalled an OBE which contained visual information apparently from around the time *of* the cardiac arrest (ie. Recalling the experience of looking down upon your body on the operating table surrounded by medical staff).

      Where these OBE’s became really intriguing, is where people recall information they should not / could not have known about, ( and I’m not talking about so called Peak in Darien cases), but some of Pam Reynolds recollections, Maria’s Shoe, Penny Sartori’s Patient 10, and a whole bundle of other recollections which never received much publicity.

      These rarest of OBE cases, have a similarity with all other anomalous human experiences, this is that people come into possession of information that they could not, or should not have known about.

      It’s surprising, when you talk to people about your own experiences, just how many people open up in private with their own amazing first hand experiences which have also puzzled them. In the most compelling cases, it’s the information they could not/should not have known about which alerts them to an inconsistency with how they’ve been brought up to understand nature.

      It is clear – at least to me – that many people occasionally have experiences which are not their own.

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  13. Marc Brown on said:

    Doesn’t the spikes in EEG activity disprove the idea that NDE’s are real? If people who have NDE’s are shown to have large spikes in EEG activity before losing conciousness, it’s clear that the memories of the NDE are created by that spike

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  14. Eduardo on said:

    This is a sample of the confusion generated by Sam Parnia.
    According to Parnia’s statements in Neo .Life the peaks of these waves in question.
    1) emerge for a very short period of time, and
    2) do so when the rest of the brain has a flat background.
    This leads one to believe that these peaks are far from reaching and reflecting a lucid consciousness such as an NDE.
    This means that at best it would be an intermittent consciousness.”
    And we know that an intermittent consciousness does not occur in NDEs, whose accounts are almost always about a continuous, rather than fragmentary and discontinuous, experience.
    That is why I argue Parnia should be clearer and not so enigmatic..

    Here is another inconsistency and ambiguity from Sam Parnia. In the written report of the November 6 meeting in Chicago it reads:
    “As the brain shuts down, many of its natural braking systems are released. Known as disinhibition, this provides access to the depths of a person’s consciousness, including stored memories, thoughts from early childhood to death, and other aspects of reality.”
    And now in the video, just as he did when it was the case of the 87-year-old man of Zemmar and team, when talking about disinhibition he states that it is disinhibition but of “some parts of the brain”, and not of the “consciousness”.
    In the first statement there is room for a dualistic interpretation…in the second not…Parnia only creates confusion…It seems to me that, besides being a good scientist, one must be a good communicator. We must not forget that the launching of the Aware in 2008 took place at the United Nations.

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  15. Eduardo on said:

    One obscure point is that true cardiac arrests may not have been studied in their entirety in AWARE II.
    One might ask why only barely half (47%) of the EEGs analyzed in AWARE II remained flat?
    -The answer perhaps, based on what Parnia has stated from 2017 to date (either through his twitter account or on the Parnia Lab website), is due to the fact that some patients may have a beating heart but are so sick that their pulse is weak and impalpable by hand, and doctors then initiate CPR on them. That is, sometimes a person’s heart has not actually stopped, but is beating very weakly, so the person still has such a low blood pressure that a pulse cannot be felt…Those people are also treated with CPR…But since the heart is still beating, the addition of CPR allows the “diastolic” blood pressure to rise enough to get more blood to the brain and sometimes even “wake” the person up.
    In a real or true “cardiac arrest,” on the other hand, there is no heartbeat and no blood pressure.
    This is a point that deserves clarification and could detract from the credibility of the data.

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  16. Im a bit out of the loop as to what Parnia has said earlier this year. Anyone have a link to the Bigelow essay or the zoom call people have mentioned before?

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  17. @Alan, a few similarities which may have a neurological basis do not negate the vast differences. Read a few NDE accounts from Sri-Lanka, Thailand, etc. They are truly vastly different, even though some of them contain a few common elements with western accounts, such as a life review. In Thailand, the life review is typically conducted by Lord Yama or his servant Devas, who consults his books listing your merits, and it will decide whether you will be reborn in one of several realms, such as hell realms, animal realm, hungry ghosts, or one of the many deva realms. For instance, having donated food or items to the Sangha of Monks is considered good merit and will get you to a deva-realm. This is a vital part of Thai and Buddhist culture in general. Monks are not allowed to work or produce their own food/clothing, because they should rely on lay people for this. They are not supposed to be self-sufficient. The lay people in turn receive merit towards a good rebirth and teachings from the monks. You rarely see in western NDEs that you get credit with God or the angels for donating to the Church/monastics. As mentioned above, dead relatives are typically a no show in Asian NDEs, because they would have moved on. There are accounts of people seeing animals being reborn as humans and vice versa. Such differences and many others need to be accounted for if one thinks the experiences are of a real afterlife instead of being illusions (or perhaps they are both?) 🙂

    @Valentin, there were no moral lessons. The whole episode happened during a few seconds. Time slowed down and he saw still images from his whole life flashing before his eyes. I wonder if a core experience like this happens to the cardiac arrest patient, and upon awakening and recalling, the brain embellishes and fills in the blanks with meaning. Confabulation is a very real thing the brain does to fill in data in memories. This could explain why easteners have different life reviews than westeners. There could be a very basic core experience which the brain embellishes with expected details upon recall, after surviving.

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    • You’re assuming the mind is the brain, in the sense that of one grants that NDEs could be what they appear to be, that consciousness somehow doesn’t depend on the brain, then the discrepancies you point to are to be expected given that what survives is a mind, a mind that is now not in a physical, objective environment, but a psychological one. You seem to be expecting NDErs to be visiting a place that is physically real and thus a consensus as to how it looks or whatever is warranted. If this state is a psychic one, of course the expectations of the mind would make the experience different.

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      • I do think the human mind at least to some extent depends on the brain for its existence, and also on sense data, but I consider myself agnostic about whether anything survives death or if rebirth in some form is real. However, having a glass of beer is enough to demonstrate that the mind is not entirely non-physical. Not to mention general anesthesia, what brain damage does to the mind, etc. My mind is also quite different from that of a cat or a crocodile. A male heterosexual cat, for instance, does not seem to find human women particularly attractive, but he is attracted to female cats in a way humans cannot be. And humans don’t start making weird noises when they see a bird in the garden through the living room window. I do think our different brains and biology explains those, and many other differences. As for the afterlife being purely psychological, it is a position that is difficult to falsify, but it falls under the illusion category I mentioned above. Both some Hindus and Vajrayana Buddhists do think the afterlife is a dreamlike illusion / a mental realm (but still subject to karma), and they may be right, but most people I talk to who believe in an afterlife do not seem to subscribe to this position. It would be a form of solipsism, and I would have to believe that everything I experience in such a realm comes from my own mind. So if I read a textbook of physics in that realm, it all comes from my mind. As does everything else I experience. So a 12 year old boy who dies and goes to videogame heaven actually has a mind that will dream up any game for him better than hundreds of human game designers can, without any training in game design. I personally do not find that persuasive. Do I even interact with others there? Or do Mormons get a private Mormon heaven, Hindus get private hindu heaven, Muslims get private Muslim heaven etc., and remain trapped in their own dreamworld? I guess anything is possibe, but I need evidence to believe it is true.

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      • An interesting personal speculative philosophical perspective. I also speculate on these things, but I tend to narrow my mental wondering to the religious and scientific knowledge that I believe to be true and that is corroborated by NDE accounts. I am not aware of any child NDE accounts where they end up in Call of Duty 😁

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    • Anthony on said:

      @Vidar
      It is true what you say that there are variations in near-death experiences depending on the religious beliefs of people or if someone is an atheist. My opinion is that most of these experiences are due to something physiological, a mechanism that perhaps generates the brain in the moments after death, a brain that clings to life and in most cases provides us with a pleasant ending, with an illusory reunion with our loved ones, with God, with our animals, our memories, etc, etc. The great mystery in this regard may be out-of-body experiences and perhaps there consciousness does emerge in some way outside the brain. How long? Impossible to know at this time. But I am convinced that we are biological beings with a clear beginning and end, but perhaps that end does not occur just at the moment our heart stops, perhaps a little later

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  18. @Vidar I would say any speculation into the nature of the afterlife just from NDEs is a fruitless endeavor. Would be better to look into parapsychology for that, you might find some of the professional ideas about NDEs there appealing as well.

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  19. Excellent response Alan, thank you.

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  20. It seems to be new:

    Here Parnia uses his catch phrases from the last articles plus is referring to the brain as an undiscovered entity again.

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    • lol I meant the mind, not the brain 😉

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    • I think this resonates pretty well with a recent interview with Roger Penrose! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfouEFuB-co) The full article is behind paywall, unfortunately.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well that is very different from his presentation to AHA. It is very clear that he leans strongly towards dualism still. Think he needs to do his zoom calls in a decent office rather than a cupboard though!

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    • Hello, although I label myself as agnostic/atheist, I think that consciousness is a mystery that is not solvable by the current science. Personally, I suspect that it might have something to do with issues with self-reference that appear in mathematics and logic (I’m an ex-researcher in those, but moved to engineering). Anyway, I would not expect a groundbreaking data from AWARE, but it might be a very important piece of puzzle that can guide researchers for many years to come. I would like to recommend reading a new interview with Roger Penrose (behind a paywall, at New Scientists website) or listening to parts of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfouEFuB-co
      Many scientists are quite open minded and academia is not as hostile as you might believe from reading blogs by “skeptics”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that millennials and Gen Z especially have less antagonism towards non-materialistic philosophies, and as they begin to populate the low and mid tiers of academia, the stance towards research that threatens the old materialist order will soften.

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  21. Kind of concerning. We don’t know really if the spikes correlated with the NDE or not. Or if it occurred when there weren’t any spikes or brain activity. If this leads nowhere and it’s just all brain and no immaterial thought I’m going to be disappointed and we are then better off just pursuing goals to end aging and other things that can kill us so we survive. Erasure scares me. It’s the one thing that terrifies me. Eventually being forgotten in eternal dreamless sleep.

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  22. What about shared death experiences? Those people have completely healthy brains (I assume) and they still have those profound transcendental experiences. Are we really going to say that everything is just in and because of the brain?

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  23. By this point I expect parnia to show that the EEG Readings were in patients having an NDE. I’m glad I joined materialism years ago.

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  24. I just have to break my silence because I feel that far too many commentators are jumping into the conclusion without understanding the current scientific theories we have relating to consciousness, and the relationship between consciousness and EEG. It wasn’t until the 2000s that mainstream science had begun accepting consciousness as a real phenomena and this subject had always been on the fringes of science.

    Some of the leading scientific theories on consciousness are mostly based on the presumption that the brain operates in a classical manner, and these theories are at the risk of being disproven because they were proposed at the time where there were still a lot of unknowns and they still have many loopholes even after many revisions. They assume that consciousness is computational and proposed that consciousness is a byproduct of this complex computational effect. David Chalmers has gone as far as suggesting that computer simulated brains are conscious, I believe these people have a very poor understanding of how computer program works. It’s almost like saying that you can start driving real cars onto a FEA simulated bridge or roads, I just fail to see how billions or trillions of transistors can simply become conscious by having them wired together.

    Whereas, some recent cross-disciplinary studies have shown that human brains may rely on quantum entablements: https://bigthink.com/hard-science/quantum-entanglement-consciousness/
    Some of these articles and hypothesis are even covered by leading scientific outlets such as the New Scientist:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg25634130-100-roger-penrose-consciousness-must-be-beyond-computable-physics/
    It is already proven the birds rely on quantum mechanisms to see the earth’s magnetic field lines for seasonal migrations:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-migrating-birds-use-quantum-effects-to-navigate/

    This suggests it is highly possible that our consciousness is not something which is easily explainable in the classical manner, also note the so-called local realism is already proven false meaning the properties of particles or objects can be influenced not only by its immediate surroundings and there is no definite properties for a particle until it is measured. Albert Einstein was famously quoted saying “How do you know the moon is there if you’re not looking?”
    Put these bigger ideas aside, I am no expert in human biology or the medical field but I do know for certain that there is no evidence or what so ever to suggest consciousness is arising as a result of the EEG waves, and the relationship between the two is only a correlation at best. Should watch this interview with a German neurologist: https://yewtu.be/watch?v=K12eOkYxb_U
    What I understood from all of Parnia’s statements is that brain waves are being recorded even during cardiac arrest and it is in their view paradoxical since we currently don’t have any theories to account for that, neither does it provide any support for non-materialist nor materialist views. Hence, the rhetorical question on whether these waves are generated by a NDE, or the other way around. Lastly, we haven’t yet been able to ascribe these recordings to the patients reporting NDE experiences.

    Even Dr. Zemmar from the brain wave spike paper was quoted saying “the whole near-death experience is mystical and spiritual” Regardless of what their views are, there is no evidence from these two separate studies to indicate that consciousness will be annihilated post-mortem, or vice versa.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-60495730

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice summary AW. I think the fact that Parnia used the radio and signal analogy in his interview as a possible explanation shows where his thinking is. I describe this in similar terms in my book…I see the brain as the interface between our consciousness and the physical world. We don’t see with our eyes, we only see after our nerves in our eyes transmit signals to our brains which then are interpreted so our consciousness “sees”.And asEinstein points to “what are we seeing?” Is it actually real?And what is reality? I believe that quantum mechanical processes lie at the heart of the interface between the observed reality and the “real” reality of the consciousness…one described in NDEs.

      Like

  25. Peter K on said:

    Hi,

    I did not have the time at the moment to view the video or read all the comments. But as I can see from the text, they are talking about the spikes that had already been measured at reads.

    As this paper was published some years ago, I had a discussion with scientist working in this area on molecular neurobiology and hypoxia.

    Conclusion:
    At an very early stage, the synaptic transmission comes to an absolute standstill. This synaptic transmission is essential for any conscious thought or perception. Do not forget, that these synaptic couplings are also the base for the neural aspect of memory.
    This spreading waves we can see at the hypoxic state, are not a synchronous firing of big cell assemblies (or the complete brain) but these are a sign of a complete depolarization of each cell. We do not have a synchronized (“synaptic”) neural activity but rather a complete loss of functionality which results in the situation, that each cell on its own depolarizes.

    So if Sam Parnia or any other scientist sees this neural activity as an evidence for conscious thinking or perception, the complete area of neurobiology needs to be re-written. This shows more or less, that these scientist have no knowledge on molecular neurobiology. Nevertheless, they are great scientists in their area.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Peter K on said:

    Correction: “measured at rats” not “at reads” of course

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  27. Peter K on said:

    If there is interest to read more about this topic, there is a good work from Zandt et. al “Neural Dynamics during Anoxia and the “Wave of Death”. This paper describes also, that as synaptic activity increases, such findings can be simulated by a single cell model.

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0022127

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Peter K on said:

    “Increase” should mean “decrease” of course. I should read the text before I post it.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Hi! I’m new here, but after reading a few comments and the opinions after the event of AHA 2022, I’d like to share my insight about the spikes in the EEG that were talked about during their presentation and also considering Dr. Parnia’s comments in the video posted here above. I must say that I don’t have any scientific background, so it’s just some interpretation coming from an ordinary person who’s very interested in this field.

    However, let’s consider the metaphor that Dr. Parnia and some others have used about the brain acting like a TV – as if the brain it’s a tool, not the source of consciousness. In this scenario, let’s imagine that a TV is going to “die”, in the sense that it’s no longer producing images and sound. We try to fix the TV, messing around with its component to bring it back to a normal state. During this time, the TV show some funky images and some noises, while we’re trying to fix it. There are only two outcomes for this TV: it goes broken for good (dies) or we can fix it (alive). If we manage to bring it back to a normal state, those funky images and noises become again as normal video and audio. Now, we know that the TV does not produce images or audio. Television transmitters use one of two different technologies: analog, in which the picture and sound are transmitted by analog signals modulated onto the radio carrier wave, and digital in which the picture and sound are transmitted by digital signals.

    So, what if, these spikes shown in the EEG are not consciousness itself, but it’s actually the brain “transmitting” consciousness, the same way a TV transmits signals into images and audio? If we take into account what Parnia had said previously, that death is a process, it would also mean that the brain it’s still a functional tool, until the cells deteriorated for good. So, it could still “capture” consciousness in the spikes shown in the EEG, but it doesn’t mean that these spikes are the NDE itself, but only what the brains could “capture” at that moment, because, let’s not forget, they are trying to bring that person back.

    Also, if we look at the title Parnia used on the ppt. presentation in the video where he talked about the spikes (10m30), it’s titled “Resumption of Network Leval Cortical Function?”. I could be wrong, but it’s not said that these spikes are the NDE experience itself, but, as I mentioned above, it could be that the brain is “capturing”, in spikes, what’s happening in the NDE/RED moment. And as one could argue, to captor is very distinctive from to produce. Obviously, we still need to see the full article to be sure what they found and if the EEG was related to NDE/RED at all. But, even if they happened during the NDE/RED, it is still not final that they are the NDE/RED itself, as Parnia himself seems to suggest when we watch his interview in the video above. After all, he’s been very clear to say that RED is not a hallucination or delusion, but a very real experience. He even said, “I’m not planning with words when I say that the person is dead”.

    Sorry for the long post! Hopefully, I didn’t stumble too much that I didn’t make myself clear!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Becky, nice to have you on board. The spikes could be all kinds of things, including the suggestions you make. It will be very hard to ever fully determine precisely what they are until we have spikes correlated with time stamped experiences. Otherwise they could be anything.

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      • Hey Ben! Thank you for welcoming me! I totally agree! Right now, these spikes don’t mean anything, and we cannot affirm they swing towards a materialistic explanation for sure. However, even though they observed it during the CPR, Parnia and his team (or most of them at least) still led toward a dualist explanation, which is very intriguing.

        Liked by 1 person

    • All I can say is if it is all just the brain which is my main concern with what is being said I’m going to have crippling thanatophobia for the rest of my life.

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      • The only cure I know for this condition is faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t preach on this blog, or try to proselytise, but you are clearly very troubled by this fear, and I feel compelled to share what I believe with certainty to be the answer to your very rational concern.

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      • Well faith would be rendered pointless if the results prove the lack of continual existence. Hence my negativity. You are better off not dying if that is proven to be the case. Invest in SENS and LEAF to get rejuvenation research more mainstream.

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      • If the results disprove the testimony of thousands of reliable people and healthcare professionals, and disprove the thinking and experiences of billions who have come to conclude in the existence of the eternal soul, then you may have a point. Big IF though.

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      • Anthony on said:

        I would like a post-death life if I am later reunited with my deceased loved ones, otherwise I would absolutely care if there was something later. In the end and being objective there is nothing to fear, the void will not give us feelings of any kind, neither fear, nor sadness, nor joy, it will be like when they give you an anesthetic in most cases that absolutely nothing is perceived or you go to sleep and do not dream or feel until you wake up. Do you remember anything 50 years before you were born? Probably not. This is how it will be after death unless something really exists, which I doubt more and more

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      • Hi Anthony. What has made you doubt more and more and more?

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      • I’m just skeptical because we don’t really know but this thing seems to be very materialistic and those spikes in the brain could be the brain creating an NDE. Unless an NDE occurs when there aren’t said spikes. Also that really doesn’t help better the situation. If anything it makes things worse. Why have everyone unfairly condemned to such a fate of being deleted from the universe with no trace of one’s being. If there is no point why exist or live? This is why I was even in on this in the first place. I hope as this gets published more things improve because right now what I’m reading is nothing short of disappointing.

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      • You clearly a glass half empty type on this subject. The only reason the results are disappointing is that they did not have more interviews and that Parnia choice a somewhat materialist tone at AHA. However, the reality is we always knew there would be some EEG activity…this was stated in the 2019 AHA poster, and this EEG activity is correlated with nothing at the moment, so we know no more than we did 3 years ago. However, Parnia’s solid dualistic tone outside of scientific congresses should be a source of comfort to you.

        As a scientist, I am 100% convinced of the potential for the soul to persist indefinitely. There is no evidence to the contrary, and lots of evidence in support of it.

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      • I see. Well that’s a good way to put it I suppose. I feel a bit better now. Hopefully we will see more as the study continues. Even if the spikes do correlate to something it doesn’t prove much since someone shared the receiver hypothesis that the brain may just be receiving signals from the consciousness but isn’t the consciousness itself. We really don’t know.

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      • That and I’m pretty sure some experiences did and do occur during flat EEG lines. So it really does beg the question what exactly is going on.

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      • Anthony on said:

        Ben Williams
        I believe that the brain activity that occurs after a person’s clinical death may be behind near-death experiences, or most of those experiences

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      • And you are perfectly entitled to believe that, but it is just belief…faith.

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  30. Ben,

    On a side note, your blog title reminded me of the late materialist Francis Crick’s book Of Molecules and Men. Crick would definitely be the antithesis of this blog, especially when he went into neuroscience where he would later publish The Astonishing Hypothesis – that you are just a bunch of neurons and of course there is no afterlife. That argument seems to have been better during the days of him, BF Skinner and that generation. Not really holding water these days…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am more familiar with Crick’s thinking on the origin of DNA, a topic on which I wrote my book DNA: The Elephant in the Lab. He concluded, as many who have really contemplated this problem have, that life could not possibly have come into existence on earth through a natural process, so he came up with panspermia…the idea that life arrived from another planet. That just shifts the same problem, which is one of statistics, to somewhere else in a universe not big enough to solve the conundrum. Clever chap, but just didn’t want to see the truth.

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      • Funny you should mention DNA. I am currently reading Simon Conway Morris’ (a Christian theistic evolutionary biologist) book on convergent evolution – it seems like DNA may not have been a miracle with a capital M but somehow inevitable by the constraining environment. Almost like biology has a teleology (from whom you might ask?)

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      • I don’t pay an awful lot of attention to evolutionary biologists, they don’t seem to understand he fundamental issues at the heart of the problem. There is nothing inevitable about the appearance of DNA, let alone a functional cell.

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  31. Eduardo on said:

    On these markers of consciousness (for Parnia) at the moment of death

    There are few cases with alleged NDEs in the Aware Study whose elements can be verified and corroborated.

    However, Sam Parnia claims to have discovered biomarkers of consciousness that would be reflecting the lucid conscious experience that millions of people have reported at the moment of death, called NDEs.

    But isn’t this a bold claim, given that half of the EEGs analyzed were flat?

    Moreover, it is to be expected that in many cases the patient, after having been resuscitated, relates in the corresponding interview that he left his body but, at the same time, does not tell anything that could be corroborated or verified with respect to his immediate surroundings. Then, he continues his story by affirming that he lived a series of experiences that would indicate that he had entered a transmaterial or spiritual phase?

    How can it be correlated, then, through the account that the NDE that the patient claims to have experienced occurred at those precise moments when those supposed markers of consciousness (for Parnia and team) that appear in his EEG were registered?

    That NDE – in whose account there is nothing that can be corroborated or verified – becomes an entirely subjective experience of the patient… It could have occurred either at a given moment of the arrest or at another, or, perhaps, during the entire duration of the coma (that is, from the instant in which the heart stops until he finally wakes up).

    There is no way of knowing.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Well my optimism is slightly renewed somewhat since I am guessing he’s only being somewhat vague in order to appeal more to public reception. This is understandable. Overall the study I think is far from over and I think there is going to be more updates in the future so there’s that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry if I was somewhat grim with what I was saying. It’s mostly because of my own irrational fears getting to me over being erased. Thankfully I don’t think this is the case and there is more to the study yet to be unveiled.

      Liked by 2 people

      • TS, I don’t think your fears are irrational. If I actually believed that death really was the end, I would be afraid, I just don’t believe the evidence supports that hypothesis.

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      • Michael DeCarli on said:

        Well, if Parnia is conducting interviews like the one in the comments section above even after the conclusion of his AWARE II study then I think you should feel relief.

        Besides, there’s multiple lines of evidence for survival of consciousness beyond death even outside the near death experience. Believe it or not I actually think that recent studies into mediumship may provide stronger scientific evidence anyway. And don’t forget Carl Sagan even said that Ian Stevensons work on children remembering past lives warranted more study and raised questions about the current scientific paradigm.

        Lastly, after speaking to neuroscientist Dr. Mona Sobhani of USC, we are quick to forget that brainwaves never provide a source, only a POTENTIAL correlation, even in our everyday lives. Do our brainwaves cause a photo of an apple or do brainwaves arise in response to a photo of an apple?

        Liked by 1 person

  33. Peter K on said:

    During all the discussions about veridical perceptions and/or any neural correlates, the phenomenology of the „transcendental“ phase of the NDE is easily forget.

    In so called „dreamlets“ caused by lack of oxygen (during high acceleration in a centrifuge or arterial breakdown by a cuff) you see what happens, when the brain is still functioning but lacks oxygen. In a first step your field of vision gets smaller, after that you get a short blackout resulting in a short dreamstate called dreamlet. These dreamlets have the classical content of a dream. They are walking in a forest, eating with family, go swimming with friends etc.
    But you have not anything like a NDE.

    In case of a cardiac arrest, with a more or less complete blackout of the brain, you get the NDE with a phenomenology that is all about being dead, being in another world with dead relatives or a light and being sent back.
    You have a structured experience in which you know, that you are dead and reach another „realm“ etc. This logical structure is completely different to a dream. I had never sich an experience during a dream, also in dreamlets it is unknown.
    This clear structure of this unique experience is in my eyes a big hint, that there is really a reality after death, which can only be reached if the brain is more or less shutdown.

    Additionally the phenomenology of the out-of-body experience is also interesting. If a limb gets amputated, you get a phantom limb, which can often be voluntarily moved in all directions but does not have any materiality as it is not overlayed by the bodily arm. If the complete feedback of the body breaks down, you get an somewhat immaterial but structured and movable „phantom body“. You can now think it further: if the brain shuts down, perception, thinking and remembering are neither overlayed by influencing bodily processes nor by neural brain processes.
    Looking at an NDE, people describe having a free floating phantom like body, an extremely clear thinking and additionally a complete access to all memories.
    This is, next to the „transcendental“ phenomenology above another hint to the reality of a NDE.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Peter K on said:

    What I also want to add: survival of subjectivity after death is not a neurological topic but a philosophical question. Both arguments need to be proved.

    It is clear, that the brain is part of the perceived material world so that it cannot construct this world where it is a part of. So you need to to think of another „brain“ outside this world, which constructs the world and the perceived brain. That this is nonsense can be easily seen.
    Additionally, there is good philosophical evidence, that a survival is much more probable. But this theoretic framework is too complex to discuss here.
    As a starting point I would recommend the first chapter of „Matter and Memory“ from Henri Bergson.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “…It is clear, that the brain is part of the perceived material world so that it cannot construct this world where it is a part of…”

      True, insofar as the world is a ‘result’ from processing of some information, and not that information itself. But it is possible to find structure on the boundary of where we cannot go, and one can infer the kinematical architecture of the thing that does the processing, and find it’s kinematic correspondence within agents that navigate spacetime…

      When Nima presented this slide I was both amazed, and horrified… and remained there for about 6 months…

      The shape of the thing on that slide, I contend, is us. There appears to be no way out through the everyday wakeful world we share. Science is therefore only mining that shared world, and that world only leads back to us. It seems there is some other ‘unintuitive’ route out that is hidden from us, and it cannot be found by mining the everyday wakeful world. It lies elsewhere…

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  35. Quantum Aspects of the brain mind relationship in Biosystems Dean Radon has a free link on His Twitter.. Co author Stuart Kauffman

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  36. Gunther P. on said:

    Hi. New here, and apologies if what I said was already addressed. I do not have a side in the materialism/dualism debate, but the central arguments as far as I know by materialists about NDE’s being hallucinations involve:
    1: The cultural context possibly influencing the experiences themselves, such as seeing deities from religions or loved ones depending on the geography.
    2: “Out of body” sensations, bright light and feeling of peace similar to descriptions of NDE’s happening to patients with brain implants to treat epilepsy and astronauts in gravity experiments.
    3: The fact that not only human behavior is affected, but also that the capacity of forming memories is stunted with damage to specific regions of the brain being supposedly strong evidence that the mind is strictly a product of the brain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • (1) Nobody knows what they’re seeing – is it JC? The Buddha? Allah? All everyone ever sees is a bright light – that light is apparently Gd or an angel.
      (2) I’ve heard of this, and, without getting into details (I’d have to look it up), I believe those experiences are not the same as what people describe in NDEs.
      (3) Dr. Parnis suggests in his books and elsewhere that perhaps the brain acts as a modulator – there is evidence that when somebody has a serious injury, and “x” part of the brain is damaged and should never function again, and is scanned and proven, that person can oddly recount memories that shouldn’t be there. Dr. Parnia discusses a few cases in his book. So if “x” part of the brain is damaged, perhaps one just can’t access that memory, not that said memory is 100% gone because consciousness is produced by the brain.

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  37. Gunther P. on said:

    Objections to those arguments?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe review the past 9 years of comments on this blog for objections.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Gunther! I understand that you’re unbias over the materialism/dualism problem, and you’re looking for counterarguments for the points above. So, I like to share a few ideas about the topics you’ve pointed out!

      1: What has been discussed now is that, although there are cultural and religious narratives in the accounts, what’s also observed is that each NDE does have a common arc that happens on all accounts, despite the cultural/religious influences. This is something that Dr. Parnia and Dr. Greyson have talked about a few times, and also it’s a strong point toward the evidence that NDEs are not hallucinations (because they have a specific arc that is developed during the event, whereas hallucination tends to be very subjective/different from each person). Crazy as it may sound, there appears to be an objective aspect of the NDEs that happens to everyone (the arc events), while this is also a very subjective experience. About this arc, you can watch what it is about in Parnia’s video on the original post.

      2: What happens here is that everybody put over the same bascket the term “OBE”. The ones you pointed out are very different from the ones Dr. Greyson and Dr. Pin Van Lommel talked about for instance. Their OBE account is the one where the person views themself as in the third person – they can recognize themself out of their body. The ones you mentioned, like the astronaut training in gravity zero and the spikes in the brain, are called OBE, but their difference is that they do not provide this third-person view, but rather a distortional sense of their own body. So, although they can reproduce some kind of OBE, that’s not the same OBE they’re talking about. Also, there’s veridical OBE, where they could accurately see something happening while in the OBE status, which was confirmed later on by the medical staff. Dr. Greyson talks extensively about it, and you can read his article about the matter, and you can find them on link below:

      https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/publications/academic-publications/near-death-experiences-academic-publications/

      3: Not sure what you meant here. Are you talking about brain damage in general, like dementia, Alzheimer, etc? If that’s so, I’m not fully aware of all aspects of this degenerative disease, so I cannot properly argue here with scientific evidence. What I have found about this is that they (the diseases) stop the brain from functioning properly, and that’s why the person seems different. You can also find accounts of terminal lucidity, where the person have episodes of “coming back to the normal self”, even with hardcore dementia. So, I could go on and say that it’s like a broken violin that cannot produce music properly, but it’s not the violin that produces the music, but the musician.
      If it’s not what you meant, there are a few accounts of people that have severe brain damage during their NDE and were able to recover completely, almost against all odds. Dr. Mary Neal is one of them, and her story is very famous in the NDE area.

      Liked by 1 person

  38. Yeah I don’t think the evidence is there either. He be keeping people in the dark on purpose. To surprise people.

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  39. Eduardo on said:

    I appreciate Sam Parnia’s work, however, there are things that are not entirely clear to me… I still maintain that the “markers of consciousness” (reflecting NDEs) is something that I do not know if it is so… The unofficial data so far is that 47% of the EEG images showed no activity at all during CPR. This suggests that many (or a considerable percentage of the patients) had their EEGs flat during CPR… But doesn’t Parnia argue that a larger number (or all) of patients may have had these experiences but due to brain lesions and brain swelling or sedative drugs they do not remember them? If most (or all) had NDEs but some do not remember them, shouldn’t these “supposed biomarkers of consciousness” also be reflected in those interviewees who did not report any NDEs? How is it then explained that almost half of the EEG images were flat?

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  40. Maybe I’m just cynical, but what indicates that we’ll *ever* find a verified case of veridical perception? I don’t mean to be defeatist, but from my understanding researchers have been conducting the visual target studies for nearly 40 years to no avail. (With the exception of Miss Z, which doesn’t appear to have been a very well-designed study.) What evidence points to the possibility that researchers will be able to find a case that can’t be explained as a constructed model based on auditory/sensory information?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you are being defeatist rather than cynical. The simple fact is that if sufficient patients are included, and the OBE is a real phenomenon…which al previous humanly verified accounts suggest is the case, then one day there will be a scientifically verified visual hit. However, given how long it has taken to recruit the numbers for AWARE II I am not expecting anything in the short term.

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      • Gunther P on said:

        “Humanly verified accounts”
        Skeptics so far claim that no “out of body experiences” with the individual recalling information that they shouldn’t be able to in theory, have been proven yet, what are the sources for those accounts?

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      • yitzgoldberg123 on said:

        If we could have more “cool” studies (I forget what it’s actually called). But if one doesn’t have to actually die, why don’t more sign up? I think I would – if they merely used the instruments for said study. But I guess there are a ton of reasons why they can’t do that.

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      • My next post will be on the topic of COOL type studies.

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      • Gunther P on said:

        Hi. What are those “humanly verified accounts”?
        Skeptics say that so far no evidence for NDE’s and OBE’s have been made citing the supposed lack of hits so far, want to see the other perspective.

        Like

      • Pam Reynolds, the account from AWARE I, the false teeth fromVan Lommel’s study, just to name 3 very high profile ones that took place in very controlled conditions…beyond that any book written by respectable authors on NDEs is full of them.

        Like

      • Gunther P on said:

        Hi.
        I saw that certain papers recognize that the “veridical NDE’s” happened.
        Skeptics however, have the argument that this can be attributed to confabulation, but due to how vivid the experiences could be they also suggested another theory involving accidental liberation of DMT combined with the brain “conjuring” memories and dreamlike visions to motivate the person to live. This contradicts somewhat the feeling of peace aspect, although negative experiences exist.
        They say the “more real than reality” description is oddly similar to DMT experiences….

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wiktor fiegler on said:

        @gunther
        the hypothesis that dmt is being released in the brain is probably impossible to verify due to ethics. BUT. There is a scientist who believes in physiological explanation of NDE, but he says that DMT is not involved in creating NDE’s. when it comes to rats There is not enough dmt in brain during their death to cause even a slight trip. Of course we can say that the brain is more prone, to this drug but we are not really sure. Another thing is that when you are on dmt the events are random and there is no any narration during the trip. Also during dmt trip you will rather see some fairy people or Aliens than God or your deceased family members. Also i am sure that there was no nde which ended with darkness and nothingness. most of nde’s ended with return to our body. The most interesting thing is that you do not have this feeling when your trip ends after NDE.

        Like

    • One thing is for sure, these target studies will never get hits on real-time targets that are hidden and secret.

      Researchers either assume that the experient is really floating up near the ceiling, or that the experient has purely constructed the experience from scraps of information coming from their own physical senses.

      Their is zero interest in testing whether the experient is actually obtaining information from third parties awareness. Which is the most likely option based on the evidence, and science.

      Like

  41. “Pam Reynolds, the account from AWARE I, the false teeth fromVan Lommel’s study, just to name 3 very high profile ones that took place in very controlled conditions… “

    What was the account or hit from the first AWARE study?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wait I just found the AWARE I results, how are people still banging about no objective evidence for OBEs? They literally have a verified OBE with visual awareness that correlates with a period of time way into cardiac arrest. Am I missing something? What is the reason for this not being a verified OBE?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep…thanks for looking it up yourself. Parnia puts great stock in this OBE…as he should.

        Like

      • I don’t understand why this is not of equal import than a visual hit of the images given how the relevance of the account is visual in nature (the man in blue hat).

        Like

      • Gunther P on said:

        Confabulation, or possible influence of external factors while the was conscious/semi-conscious are the most used arguments by skeptics.

        Liked by 1 person

      • They are. It is very hard to prove either way what is going on without a scientifically verified hit.

        Like

      • Borjigin et al (2015) says that her dying rodents iEEG looked like a human’s EEG when undertaking a visual task. Borjigin’s invasive EEG study of rodents during cardiac arrest is the gold standard of NDE research, it’s the absolute pinnacle, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it repeated. Imagine making a dying rats neural activity strongly resemble a wakeful humans neural activity when undertaking a visual task. I mean, these rodents were dying, they were well into their period of cardiac arrest, and no attempt was made to resuscitate them. Borjigin simply allowed them to die. Their neural activity was all scrambled up, when suddenly, their neural activity spontaneously resynchronised, and strongly paralleled human conscious information processing. Anyone who has ears to hear…

        Like

      • Did the rats report an NDE?

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      • The 2013 paper clearly shows a huge spike in EEG activity in the first 30s after death, then nothing. Given that the rats were unconsious before that makes this interesting. However, after the 30s there is nothing and many reports of OBEs in NDEs are of incidents that occur after this timepoint. However, it is unreasonable not to concede the possibility that this consious activity may be associated with NDEs, but it proves absolutely nothing. Parnia has postulated that this activity is “interaction with other dimensions” or “the consiousness backing its bags and saying goodbye” as I have said.

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      • I’m happy to confirm Borjigin’s rodents had no way of reporting an NDE, (had they even been resuscitated, which they were not). If you’ll acknowledged that we do not know that they didn’t have an NDE.

        The thrust of my post was to highlight that Borjigin’s rodents neural activity (alpha-gamma and theta-Gamma cross coupling) in death, more strongly paralleled wakeful humans neural activity, than wakeful rodents neural activity. Those results are astonishing… anyone with ears to hear..

        Like

      • We have ears and eyes Max, but it proves nothing, either way. We have discussed the rat experiment here many times before. Yes, they could have had NDEs.

        Like

  42. Hello everyone. This is my first comment on the blog, although I’ve been reading you for quite some time. Sorry if my english is not very good
    In my youth I experimented with LSD and also with DMT. Unfortunately many years later I experienced a near death experience due to a serious health problem. In both cases (DMT and NDE) the experiences were very, very similar, if not the same. In one of the situations my life was not in danger, so I don’t know exactly why they were so similar in all aspects (darkness, light, tunnel, green meadows, meeting loved ones still alive and deceased ones).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very interesting Scott, and very rare…usually these drugs create very different experiences. However, I talk about this in my book, and my thinking on this is that it if the consciousness is able to detach from the body, then surely pharmacological substances could cause that effect.

      Like

      • Many people’s experiences profoundly changed the way they live. It was not my case, neither with the DMT nor with the near death experience. The only thing that changed was that my interest in these subjects increased and has continued ever since.
        My idea is also that the afterlife is a mental dimension in which each person or group of people (mind or groups of minds) create their own reality, a reflection of this world. Perhaps a kind of fiction based on our experiences in this physical world and our memories

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Scott! I’m sorry to hear about your experience, but I appreciate that you are here to share it with us.

      Just from curiosity, did you recall a life review of any of those experiences? Also, do you believe that the NDE was real, having in mind that you had experienced something similar in the past with DMT?

      Like

      • Hello Becky. I did not have a life review as such or as experiencers usually indicate. If I can tell you that my memories in my physical life remained unchanged during that experience, it was absolutely me in both experiences, aware of everything I had experienced and felt. Both my NDE and my DMT journey felt very real, or at least like a vivid dream we’ve had in our lifetimes. I had decision-making ability to a certain extent, except for my return to my body

        Like

    • Wow, that’s very interesting! Thanks for sharing! So, you didn’t have the control to return to your body, like you were dragged back in, in both experiences? Did you have an OBE in any of them?

      Like

      • During both experiences I wanted to stay in that world, I didn’t want to return but there was something, an understanding if you want to call it that that I had to return (no voice told me as in other experiences). That’s when I came back both times (I didn’t want to)
        With the DMT trip I had a slight sensation of floating and I have a faint memory of seeing my body from above at a certain height, but it’s quite confusing and I’m not sure about them either. In the near death experience he did not have any out of body experience, I went straight into the darkness for an undetermined amount of time

        Like

      • Sorry
        * In the near death experience I did not have any out of body experience

        Like

    • Thank you for your reply! Your experience is very intriguing indeed, and I was curious to read an account of someone who had both experiences with the DMT and NDE and sees the similarities in both of them and the differences – if there are any. So, thank you for sharing again!

      Like

  43. Anyone who has ears to hear… listens to the accounts of people who survived and recalled their NDE.

    The article is interesting indeed, and I think it collaborated with Dr, Parnia’s observation as well. It highlights that the experience is universal, and they also it points out a coherent development, which is the arc of events Parnia talks about. However, even though Borjigin tries to argue towards a materialist explanation, it still sits under the three of correlation vs causation. Yeah, the brain those do this, but are the gamma/delta/alpha waves the causation of the NDE or the brain are just reacting to something that is going on inside the rats’ minds? There’s no conclusion to that. Also, rats cannot report NDE like humans do (because they don’t talk), so we are just stuck with the images and analysis of EEG, and nothing else. But, there’s more to the NDE than just brain activities – at this point, it’s very hard to conclude that everything that occurs during an NDE is a reflection of a brain shutting down/cessation of consciousness (although I can understand that it can be a personal opinion at this point, highly supported by the evidence of the cases). We cannot explain consciousness in its normal state with EEG alone – if with anything – with our current state of the science.

    So, although the article is indeed intriguing, if we analyze it alone, it still hasn’t solved the problem of causation vs correlation.

    Also, just a personal opinion, I think it’s funny that NINE rats’ accounts prove the materialist causation of consciousness, while 28 accounts of NDE are just too few to consider anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • People just don’t get it… the rodents neural activity spontaneously changed to strongly parallel conscious human processing, well into it’s period of cardiac arrest.

      It’s really unimportant as to whether the rodents did, or did not have an NDE, or even if EEG is correlated with the NDE.

      What matters is that rodent brain’s activity, spontaneously resembled conscious human brain activity, during the rodents dying process. How can this be…

      How can a rodents brain activity in death, parallel conscious human brain activity? It’s a rodent for gods sake! And it’s dying! Why on earth would it have similar Bain activity as a wakeful human!

      I just can’t see how I can make this any clearer… Borjigin’s results are shocking.

      (Note, Borjigin only put the rodents in a Faraday cage).

      Like

      • A couple of quotes from Borjigin’s paper…

        Like

      • A lot is common between us and rats and they are really smart animals. I had a favourite pet rat who I really loved and he seemed to genuinely love me. I suspect that Borjigin means that they detect in rats what they know in humans to be a correlate of consciousness. I.e. she probably does not mean that it’s a new phenomenon unobserved in rat’s brains unless they die. What’s your take on this?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with Max regarding the importance of the rat study and wonder if our sense of self importance as humans is getting in the way of being open minded to the mystery of animal consciousness and the possibility that we are not as different as we’ve been told. I mean all the other organs in our bodies work the same, why would the brain be any different.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t disagree with the understanding that animal consciousness is far more significant that we as humans believe, what I disagree with is that the rat studies in any way “prove” that NDEs are a result of brain activity. They don’t. However, the fact the rats were fully sedated with zero brain activity prior to death, and we then see this sudden spike after CA is intriguing. However, while the EEG may throw out signals that have been correlated with consciousness in humans, it is impossible to say for sure whether or not this is actually conscious activity.

        Like

      • Gunther P. on said:

        One skeptic made a interesting quote about this.
        “About the soul, either everything has one or nothing has one.”

        Like

      • Hi Ben, I actually agree with you that the brain activity isn’t the cause of an NDE. My guess (and it is only that) is that the surge is possibly the reaction to an NDE like spiritual experience.

        Gunther, I like that quote and it pretty much echoes my thoughts (although I’m the opposite of a skeptic). I just think it makes sense that the spiritual/physical design of life would not be limited to one species.

        Liked by 1 person

  44. Michael DeCarli on said:

    Max, How is the rat study the “gold standard” of NDE research? Nobody has ever claimed such.

    Also, I’m usually really chill on this forum, but if you don’t understand brain electrical activity, don’t come on here and pretend that you do…

    The brain electrical activity that arose in the rat brains during cardiac arrest was nowhere near the normal level of healthy rat brain activity let alone healthy human activity which you claim for reasons unknown. The increase in gamma activity displayed in the rats was a relative increase in gamma which means that although all brain waves were diminished, the gamma diminished slower than other bands.

    Like

    • I agree, as far as I remember activity in the gamma band was higher relative to other bands band overall lower than waking consciousness for the rat. I also don’t remember Borjigin claiming it “mirrored human waking consciousness”

      Liked by 1 person

  45. Bruce Greyson makes some comments about the AWARE II study in the first question within this recent video interview…

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Gunther P. on said:

    @Ben Williams You were studying neuroscience for four years right? Do you have any thoughts on materialist theories, such about consciousness being the equivalent of a “observer illusion” for example?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not really. I do not give much time to materialist theories as I am utterly convinced that the materialist understanding is wrong. Now, if it is shown beyond reasonable doubt that NDEs AND OBEs are a product of neurological activity then I might reconsider that position, but at the moment I am very much of the opposite view…namely that if you take into account the mountain of human testimony on the subject,including my own, then the materialists understanding of our existence is nonsense.

      Like

  47. Wiktor fiegler on said:

    https://skeptiko.com/246-michael-graziano-near-death-experience-astrology/
    Do you guys think that Michael Graziano is quite rude and arrogant?

    Like

    • Anthony on said:

      Wiktor
      I didn’t know who Michael Graziano was. I have been able to browse the interview in Skeptiko and I think he may be right about the following:
      “That could be, I’m aware. There’s an NDE world out there. I would say that it’s very, very difficult and I’m very skeptical of the claim that the brain is actually non-functioning. It’s almost impossible to demonstrate that there’s no functioning, no activity in a brain. It’s almost impossible. I just don’t believe that there are the scanning methods available to arrive at that kind of conclusion. Of these brains are functioning. If these people are having experiences their brains are , in some manner, functioning”

      Until relatively recently, dualists and friends of the paranormal said that once cardiac arrest occurred there was no trace of brain activity. A few years ago it was found that there is activity in the rat experiment and peaks of brain activity have also been discovered in humans, including gamma, delta, theta, alpha and beta waves up to an hour after resuscitation.
      I think it is not at all ruled out that much of what happens in a near-death experience is produced by the brain, although I think that the great mystery is the out-of-body experiences in which people can see what is happening in the room and its surroundings

      Like

      • Gunther P on said:

        Associating those waves with waking consciousness is tenuous, the reasons already discussed here. Parnia is apparently betting on the theory that the individuals are paradoxically in a “higher consciousness” in spite of the lower brain activity, through a conclusion is not reached unless the paper has definitive evidence to confirm or falsify this theory.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @Anthony “I think it is not at all ruled out that much of what happens in a near-death experience is produced by the brain, although I think that the great mystery is the out-of-body experiences in which people can see what is happening in the room and its surroundings”

        The only objection I have to your reply is the use of the singular term ‘produced’ in this sentence “…near-death experience is produced by the brain…”. IMO the term ‘produced’ on it’s own is too strongly suggestive towards ideas of ‘created’ or ‘originated’.

        Even the most conservative neuroscientist would understand that visual sensory data also apparently originates from outside of the brain from photons directly or indirectly entering the eyes.

        So I’d prefer to qualify ‘produced’ with something else like “with the help of” “through the medium of”.

        Other than that, your reply seems very reasonable to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  48. Wiktor fiegler on said:

    Check this out my guys

    Like

  49. Stefan Busch on said:

    How can these spikes occur at all? I thought all measurable brain activity ceases in CA after at most 20 seconds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • These spikes are occurring during CPR, so it is possible that sufficient oxygenated blood is reaching the brain, or that there are brief moment of heartbeat, that allow for the brain to start firing up. We really need to see all the data to understand exactly what is going on. In the rats and comma patients, all noteworthy activity does indeed stop within 30 seconds of CA, but it makes sense that high quality CPR could provide a reasonable flow at various moments. The key is whether or not Parnia was able to correlate these spikes with recollections…if he does then it provides strong evidence supporting the materialist position. If not these findings are only potentially hypothesis generating…i.e. they allow one to consider the hypothesis that NDEs are a result of post CA brain activity, but the hypothesis has not been proven or falsified. If however there are recollections that are correlated with periods of zero EEG and ECG activity then this data would provide significant support for the hypothesis that NDEs are not a result of brain activity. A scientifically verified OBE would PROVE the latter.

      Like

      • Charlie on said:

        I think it would be impossible to ever correlate spikes in EEG to patient recollections, which makes proving the materialist position difficult. How could we ever verify that a life review was occurring at the exact time a spike occurred? Maybe it occurred while flat lined and the spikes were a different experience? Or the spikes had no correlating experience? The only way to verify anything is if the patient could time stamp an OBE, which is a whole other can of worms…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think any NDE accompanied by EEG data supporting consciousness no matter whether it is time stamped or not would be grist for the materialist mill.

        Like

      • Eduardo on said:

        Does the electrical activity detected during CPR “reflect” the NDEs?

        The data we have (unofficially so far) is that 47% of the EEG images showed no activity at all during CPR. This suggests that many (or a considerable percentage of patients) had their EEGs flat during CPR… But hasn’t Parnia long maintained that a large number of patients (if not all) may have had these experiences (NDEs), but because of brain lesions and brain swelling or sedative drugs they do not remember them…? Then, if most (or all) had NDEs but some do not remember them, should not, nevertheless, those “supposed biomarkers of consciousness” of the detected electrical activity be reflected in addition in those interviewees who did not report any NDE (since they too must have undergone an NDE-according to Parnia)?… How is it then explained that almost half of the EEG images were flat?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Parnia’s position on why so few recall NDEs is speculative, without direct supporting evidence. It is one of a number of possible explanations, and the one that most comfortably aligns with his world view.

        Like

      • Isn’t it contradictory that Parnia attributes the electrical activity detected in CPR as biomarkers of consciousness reflecting NDEs (endorsing a materialistic position) and, on the other hand, in his Parnia Lab states that in a true cardiac arrest, when there is no heartbeat, even with CPR there is not enough blood flow to the brain (about 20 percent) to satisfy the needs of the brain cells? … It is impossible, biologically speaking, for consciousness to exist without the metabolic needs of the cells being met.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “The key is whether or not Parnia was able to correlate these spikes with recollections…if he does then it provides strong evidence supporting the materialist position.”

        Do you think the new study has? And if so, would that render our views on the mind and consciousness after death null in void? Would we all have to go skeptic then?

        Like

      • I have no idea whether Parnia has been able to correlate, but I think it is highly unlikely given only a tiny proportion had any NDE like recollections, and of that proportion only a couple, if any, would have EEG data. However, even they did, while it would give succour to the sceptics, it would still be possible to suggest that the EEG signals are signs of the brain interacting with other dimensions…as Parnia has suggested a number of time.

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