Life after death: Expert discusses research into topic
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Up to a third of those who have had a close brush with death, have reported NDEs. Some of the common features of their experiences include feelings of contentment, psychic detachment from the body, rapid movement through a long dark tunnel, and entering a bright light. The significance of these experiences are hotly disputed, depending on a person’s beliefs.
For those with religious beliefs, NDEs are proof that there is life after death – in particular, the separation of the spirit from the body.
However, scientists see a more rational explanation, although there is no definitive consensus on the causes.
One intriguing theory that has gained traction within the scientific community is the one proposed by Olaf Blanke and Sebastian Dieguez .
The neuroscientists believe there are two types of near-death experiences.
Type one is associated with the brain’s left hemisphere and features an altered sense of time and impressions of flying.
Type two involves the right hemisphere and is characterised by seeing or communicating with spirits, and hearing voices, sounds and music.
Although it is still unclear why there are different types of NDEs, the neuroscientists believe that the various interactions between the two parts of the brain create these unique experiences.
A more bizarre explanation revolves around the presence of dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in the body at the beginning and end of life.
DMT is also a psychedelic drug that occurs naturally in some plants.
Rick Strassman, a professor of psychiatry, conducted a serious of experiments where he injected people with the psychedelic drug between 1990 to 1995.
People described near-death and mystical experiences after being injected with DMT.
According to Mr Strassman, the human body releases natural DMT at both birth and death.
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However, there is no definitive proof to support his theory.
The “dying brain” hypothesis is the most popular explanation for NDEs, but still cannot account for all the sensations people have described in their close encounters with death – in particular the out-of-body experiences.
The theory posits that NDEs are hallucinations triggered by the brain as cells begin to die.
As these occur during times of crisis, this would explain the stories survivors recount.
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