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


Finally, we have a publication, albeit a preprint. Link below – it is opensource, which the final version may not be.


Thanks again to Z, always first off the mark!

Having had a very quick skim read here are my initial thoughts:

  • Nothing radically different from the presentation Parnia gave at AHA in November
  • The visual “OBE” was not verified, and would be easy for skeptics to dismiss
  • The auditory OBEs don’t sound convincing either
  • It isn’t clear whether there is any correlation (or not) between EEG signals and recalled experiences…need to read this in detail
  • A nod to the potential for better data from the COOL type study they are currently doing

I may have missed something epic, but I don’t think so. Full analysis of the details to follow below on Sunday as I am busy the rest of today. First impressions though are certainly not what we had been hoping for prior to November, but maybe what we have been expecting since then.


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25 thoughts on “AWARE II PAPER

  1. IIRC they mentioned tables, which weren’t present in the pre-print.

    As you mentioned, I’d also like to see the relationship between the collected data on explicit recall of visual/auditory data, and the EEG data.

    It seems like the use of the headphones was pretty low. never-the-less, I’d also like to breakdown the relationship between those who did/did not have the auditory stimulus via the headphones. As it’s hard to understand the significance of zero recalls (explicit/implicit?) of the audio stimulus, whilst they did obtain recollections of other auditory stimulus.

    The main take home point for me was this quote…

    “…near-normal/physiological EEG activity (delta, theta, alpha, beta rhythms) consistent with consciousness and a possible resumption of a network-level of cognitive and neuronal activity emerged up to 35-60 minutes into CPR. This is the first time such biomarkers of consciousness are identified during CA/CPR…”

    Again, I’m going to keep repeating that the sole use of secret hidden real-time targets in these studies is missed opportunity. It’s a complete no-brainer to investigate anomalous information transfer, by adding extra targets that everyone but the patient can see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The tables are the key. The fact that only 53 patients had interpretable EEG images out of the total included cohort (567) mean that the chances that 1 of the 6 who had NDE like experiences also had interpretable EEG data is about 50%, and given that there are no time stamped explicit NDE like recollections, even if there is EEG data, it is irrelevant to the key question of whether NDEs are the result of brain activity. Of course, you can say from this study that it could be, but there is no direct evidence, just as with the rats and coma patients.

      Overall the results of this study are extremely disappointing. The numbers are way too low. Only 26 interviews. A tiny sample in reality. They stopped collecting data at the beginning of COVID, but the study is still open. Whether these are the final results or not, we cannot be sure, but I suspect all their attention has turned to the study that we have dubbed “COOL 2”.


      • Maybe it’s just not possible for them to capture time-stamped recollections? I mean, I imagine it would be insanely difficult to begin with.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Ellen, difficult yes, but achievable. If they had someone who was able to explicitly recall either a sound or image that was generated by the tablet at a specific time, then the recollection is time stamped. The EEG is automatically time stamped, so cross referencing the two would be easy. It is the first part that is hard, especially when so few survive to discharge. 26 interviews after 6 years! I know we feel disappointed but imagine how the team must feel.


      • no hope of life after death sadly?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anthony on said:

        I think it is impossible to know for sure if there is life after death, it also depends on what we understand as life after death. There is brain activity after clinical death and perhaps this explains a large part of the phenomena reported in near-death experiences. Will we have consciousness hours, months, years, decades after our physiological death? Who knows. I personally think not, but I wish it existed and we could reunite with our loved ones. But I think it’s more a fantasy than a reality


  2. When could we expect the COOL 2 Study results? That’s going to be the final determining factor in all of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gunther P on said:

    So, no EEG data of the patients that had those experiences? Without it a conclusion can’t be reached.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Charlie on said:

    Page 13, beginning at line 323 may be the most important insight into Parnia’s thinking. He offers direct support for consideration non materialist theories. If ok with Ben, copy and pasted below:

    “Recent reports of a surge of gamma electrical activity (ordinarily seen during conscious perception) during
    cardiac standstill, led to speculation that a biomarker of lucid consciousness at death may exist. While, our
    data supports this intriguing possibility, the mechanism of consciousness and its relationship with brain
    resuscitation and function remain undiscovered. “Bottom‐up” or “top-down” mechanisms are proposed for the
    emergence of consciousness. The former considers consciousness as an epiphenomenon from brain
    activities; the latter, as a separate undiscovered entity not produced by conventionally understood brain
    mechanisms, which can independently modulate brain activity
    The identification of a potential biomarker of
    consciousness doesn’t resolve this conundrum, as an association doesn’t imply causation. However, the
    finding of paradoxical lucidity and heightened reality when brain function is severely disordered, or has ceased
    raises the need to consider alternatives to the epiphenomenon theory.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Indeed Charlie,that last bit is very important. How could he say this as the finding of this kind of recollection when brain function has proven to have ceased,i.e. flat EEG, does not exist elsewhere…but then it doesn’t exist in this paper either.


      • Charlie on said:

        My thoughts exactly. I know it’s a pre print but it seems remarkable to include such a statement in the “final” draft


      • Michael DeCarli on said:

        What do you mean does not exist elsewhere? I am having trouble deciphering your comment. Thanks!


      • I mean that there is no evidence from what I can recall of an NDE with a flat EEG recorded at the same time.


      • Charlie on said:

        Unless he has a time stamped RED while no EEG which is only visible in one of the tables (doubtful), I think it means that yes, the findings are intriguing but also reject the notion that the brain waves mean consciousness. As someone noted from Dr. Sobhani and as previously stated by Dr. Greyson, the brain waves are definitely interesting but in no way indicate the kind of activity to ” produce” these experiences. I think Dr. Parnia is reflecting the same skepticism. Or else this statement wouldn’t be in the paper

        Liked by 1 person

      • Eduardo on said:

        Ben, I’m don’t understand you say it?


  5. Michael DeCarli on said:

    It’s important not to throw out the rest of our understanding of brain science when discussing these eeg reads. And I think Parnia’s nod to “top down consciousness” tells me he feels as I do.

    I spoke with a USC Neuroscientist, Dr Mona sobhani, about these findings and she said that spikes in brain activity don’t tell you much. Brief network level spikes don’t equate to complex conscious perception ever. Even in waking states. That type of brain activity would result in a quick blip of consciousness then unconsciousness on repeat. At best. But most probably no consciousness. Even in non dream sleep there is more structured brain activity.

    She did say it very well could be a marker of how a external fundamental consciousness could interact with the brain. Her exact words were “a brain wave doesn’t disprove the reality of a separate dimension, a dimension I have come to know through my work on psychedelics.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. I just think AWARE II says nothing we didn’t already know or guess to be the case. But it does give ammo to the skeptics. Neither side of the debate can use this as conclusive evidence by any means though.


      • Gunther P on said:

        “Skeptics” (That misuse the word greatly) will do with this study what they did with the readiness potential experiments: Lie by omission, mentioning the spikes but neither the quotes from Parnia or related research.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. As a longtime reader of this blog, I have to give a double thumbs up to comments I just read above by Gunther P. I believe he is mentioning how materialist skeptics used Benjamin Libet’s “Readiness Potential” as a supposed proof against the possibility of human free will. Materialist warriors used Libet’s research for years as one of their favored, first-line debating weapon in the whole free will debate. And this was even though Libet’s results were 1) Not conclusive, and 2) based on a number of different assumptions. But then, about 10 years ago, a series of neuroscience experiments commenced that have, at best, cast serious doubt on the the traditional interpretation of Libet’s results, and at worst have demolished the whole Libet Paradigm. The ‘spike in brain activity’ detected by Libet and countless others during decision trials was assumed to be evidence of a DECISION being made in the brain. NOT true according to a number of recent studies. In fact, Libet’s research and the way it was interpreted has now been cast into serious doubt in terms of WHAT he was actually measuring to begin with. But fast-forward to the present.During these AWARE studies I have often perused this forum and seen a similar phenomenon happening here with these so-called SPIKES in brain activity, gamma rays of what have you; namely, HUGE assumptions are being made as to what these spikes are capable of generating. I find it amusing that so many materialists——the same folks who were deeply skeptical of NDE’s to begin with——are now willing to “explain away” an NDE by associating it with some minuscule, barely-there, form of brain activity. But to reiterate, I’m seeing very similar assumptions now being made in the NDE debate as were made in the decades of debates over Libet’s readiness potential. It’s quite interesting to observe this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi J-Man and thanks for your first comment, and a great one at that.

      Materialists have a very liberal interpretation of the truth and “facts” when it comes to this subject and will latch on to anything that might be “evidence”supporting their worldview. As you correctly point out, they use the vaguest EEG signals as “proof” of conscious activity, when at best it could only be described as evidence that conscious activity may be possible (which we must concede).

      I have come across this in my other area of interest that butts up against fanatical materialists – the origin of life conundrum, the subject of my other non-fiction book, DNA: The Elephant in the Lab. Materialists regularly cite theories like the “RNA world theory” as proof that life arose naturally, but even materialist scientists who are truly familiar with the theory have dismissed it as nonsense.

      One has to ask the question Why? Why are they so fanatical in their assertions that our existence ends with physical death? Why aren’t they open to the incredible and wonderful possibilities that open up when we consider the evidence from NDEs and the prophets about life after death? It is weird.


      • Ben, you’re very welcome!! I have to admit that I have nowhere NEAR the informational depth you and so many of your contributors possess on these issues. Instead, I’m one of those fairly regular blog “readers” who enjoys your site and the interesting discussions but who probably won’t contribute much simply due to my lack of time and a lack of expertise. But I did feel the need to chime in when Libet was mentioned. Years ago, I saw some of the same, unfounded, “wild” assumptions being made by materialists about the Readiness Potential. It got to the point where some of them were extrapolating the RP results in simple decision trials to ALL forms of mental activity (essentially everything human beings did). It was truly nutty, but what was even more disturbing is that some of these same materialists appeared genuinely “gleeful” in their hope that science might one day show that humans have no free will and are essentially zombies. They are a strange group of folks to want something like this. Weird, weird people. Yet I suspect they’re cut from a similar cloth as the ones you mention who are fanatically against the idea of life after death. Thank you VERY much for all your work on this issue and for this great blog, Ben!! And thank you for mentioning that book too. I wish you and all your contributors the very best in 2023!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you J-man…my concern is that these fanatics are infesting all levels of academia, media, the corporate world and politics. Not wishing to go down a rabbit hole here, but the meeting in Davos this week, and its talk of a fourth industrial revolution, and the way that humans are regarded by the WEF, epitomises this kind of thinking and exemplifies it potential dangers to our futures. it is this kind of reductionist thinking that allowed the Nazis and communists to reap so much destruction in the last century.


  7. I have posted my analysis of the key NEW points from the preprint in a new post.


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