Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Memories of near death experiences: More real than reality?

Date:
March 27, 2013
Source:
University of Liège
Summary:
Researchers have demonstrated that the physiological mechanisms triggered during near death experiences (NDE) lead to a more vivid perception not only of imagined events in the history of an individual but also of real events which have taken place in their lives. These surprising results – obtained using an original method -- now require further investigation.

Researchers have demonstrated that the physiological mechanisms triggered during near death experiences (NDE) lead to a more vivid perception not only of imagined events in the history of an individual but also of real events which have taken place in their lives.
Credit: © petarpaunchev / Fotolia

University of Liège researchers have demonstrated that the physiological mechanisms triggered during NDE lead to a more vivid perception not only of imagined events in the history of an individual but also of real events which have taken place in their lives! These surprising results - obtained using an original method which now requires further investigation - are published in PLOS ONE.

Seeing a bright light, going through a tunnel, having the feeling of ending up in another 'reality' or leaving one's own body are very well known features of the complex phenomena known as 'Near-Death Experiences ' (NDE), which people who are close to death can experience in particular. Products of the mind? Psychological defence mechanisms? Hallucinations? These phenomena have been widely documented in the media and have generated numerous beliefs and theories of every kind. From a scientific point of view, these experiences are all the more difficult to understand in that they come into being in chaotic conditions, which make studying them in real time almost impossible. The University of Liège's researchers have thus tried a different approach.

Working together, researchers at the Coma Science Group (Directed by Steven Laureys) and the University of Liège's Cognitive Psychology Research (Professor Serge Brédart and Hedwige Dehon), have looked into the memories of NDE with the hypothesis that if the memories of NDE were pure products of the imagination, their phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensorial, self referential, emotional, etc. details) should be closer to those of imagined memories. Conversely, if the NDE are experienced in a way similar to that of reality, their characteristics would be closer to the memories of real events.

The researchers compared the responses provided by three groups of patients, each of which had survived (in a different manner) a coma, and a group of healthy volunteers. They studied the memories of NDE and the memories of real events and imagined events with the help of a questionnaire which evaluated the phenomenological characteristics of the memories. The results were surprising. From the perspective being studied, not only were the NDEs not similar to the memories of imagined events, but the phenomenological characteristics inherent to the memories of real events (e.g. memories of sensorial details) are even more numerous in the memories of NDE than in the memories of real events.

The brain, in conditions conducive to such phenomena occurring, is prey to chaos. Physiological and pharmacological mechanisms are completely disturbed, exacerbated or, conversely, diminished. Certain studies have put forward a physiological explanation for certain components of NDE, such as Out-of-Body Experiences, which could be explained by dysfunctions of the temporo-parietal lobe. In this context the study published in PLOS ONE suggests that these same mechanisms could also could also 'create' a perception - which would thus be processed by the individual as coming from the exterior - of reality. In a kind of way their brain is lying to them, like in a hallucination. These events being particularly surprising and especially important from an emotional and personal perspective, the conditions are ripe for the memory of this event being extremely detailed, precise and durable.

Numerous studies have looked into the physiological mechanisms of NDE, the production of these phenomena by the brain, but, taken separately, these two theories are incapable of explaining these experiences in their entirety. The study published in PLOS ONE does not claim to offer a unique explanation for NDE, but it contributes to study pathways which take into account psychological phenomena as factors associated with, and not contradictory to, physiological phenomena.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Liège. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marie Thonnard, Vanessa Charland-Verville, Serge Brédart, Hedwige Dehon, Didier Ledoux, Steven Laureys, Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse. Characteristics of Near-Death Experiences Memories as Compared to Real and Imagined Events Memories. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (3): e57620 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057620

Cite This Page:

University of Liège. "Memories of near death experiences: More real than reality?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327190359.htm>.
University of Liège. (2013, March 27). Memories of near death experiences: More real than reality?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327190359.htm
University of Liège. "Memories of near death experiences: More real than reality?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327190359.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins