Feeds

US team explains near death experiences

'REM intrusion' fingered

High performance access to file storage

A team of US scientists has come up with a plausible explanation for "near death" events, wherein individuals experience out-of-body sensations or an aura of clear white light - and it has nothing to do with ascending toward the pearly gates.

Rather, it's all down to "REM intrusion" where "the same parts of the brain are activated when people dream as in near death experiences", the BBC reports.

The University of Kentucky team studied 55 people who'd had near death experiences - defined as "a time during a life-threatening episode when a person undergoes an outer body experience, unusual alertness, sees an intense light, or feels a great sense of peace" - and compared them to 55 who hadn't.

Sixty per cent of those who claimed a near death experience said they'd also suffered a "REM state of sleep during periods of wakefulness", or REM intrusion, described by study author professor Kevin Nelson to the Daily Telegraph as "an activation of certain brain regions that are also active during the dream state".

Nelson added: "However, I hesitate to call it dreaming or dreaming while awake. This is the first testable hypothesis of a biological basis for these experiences. People who have near death experiences may have an arousal system that predisposes them to REM intrusion."

The theory has found favour with Dr Neil Stanley, director of sleep research at Surrey University, who chipped in: "There are plenty of rational people who say that these things happen and the one part of us that's utterly fantastical is our dreams.

"Our dreams can appear incredibly real - after all they are our reality when they are happening. If you get that sort of reality playing through into your consciousness, it's a very convincing reason to believe such a thing is happening."

For the record, common symptoms of REM intrusion include "waking up and feeling unable to move, having sudden muscle weakness in the legs, and hearing sounds just before falling asleep or waking up that others do not hear", the Kentucky team notes.

There's more in the full study, as published in Neurology. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.