CNN wrong that Near Death Experiences are in the brain


Friday October 16, 2009, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported about Near Death Experiences that these happen in the brain. However, this conclusion is too simple and does not include all scientific facts about NDEs.


The report began with the NDE of Laura Geraghty who was clinically dead for 57 minutes and then brought back to life. Geraghty describes her experience:


"It was very peaceful and light and beautiful. And I remember like, when you see someone you haven't seen in a while, you want to hug them, and I remember trying to reach out to my ex-husband, and he would not take my hand. And then they floated away."




Geraghty’s experience is a classical Near Death Experience, and while CNN’s interest in the topic is appreciated the conclusion of Dr. Sanjay Gupta lacks deeper knowledge of NDE research. Gupta relies on the point of view of Dr. Kevin Nelson, a neurologist in Lexington, Kentucky.


While Nelson is open the NDEs by saying that “they are real experiences” his conclusion that the explanation for these experience lie in the brain itself is too simplistic.


"Part of our 'fight or flight' reflexes to keep us alive includes the switch into the REM state of consciousness," he explains and concludes that, “The activation of the visual system caused by REM is causing the bright lights."


The problem with this simple theory is that Near Death Experiences happen when the brain is inactive and during flat EEG. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and the activation of the visual system are opposite states of an active brain whereby the two states are not the same. Also Gupta's theory that NDEs happen when there is no blood flow to the brain has a problem: a brain that does not function, a state normally associated with coma or brain death, cannot produce clear conscious experience with memory. 


CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta should look into cases of NDEs such as Pam Reynolds, who in 1991 had a Near Death Experience during flat EEG. Because people report experiences with clear consciousness while the brain is inactive, these NDEs with flat EEG suggest not as CNN that these cases happen in the brain but rather outside the brain. 


For more information, contact Rene Jorgensen:

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