Feeds

US team explains near death experiences

'REM intrusion' fingered

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.