Thursday, August 15, 2013

Does a "transient surge" in electrical activity in rat brains disprove survival after death?

Does a "transient surge" in electrical activity in rat brains disprove survival after death?
Stephen Krashen

Borjigin et al (2013) show that rat brains experience "a transient surge" of electrical activity that corresponds to hightened consciousness beginning about 30 seconds after cardiac arrest, lasting from 30 to 60 seconds. This kind of electrical activity is not present during anesthesia.  Borjigin et al suggest that their results "provide a scientific framework to begin to explain the highly lucid and realer-than-real mental experiences reported by near death survivors."
Several media reports state that this study shows that near-death experiences are not real, eg."Near-Death Experiences Might Just Be Brain Fireworks" (The Atlantic, and "Near-death experiences are 'electrical brain surges'"(
Not discussed in the study, or in the media reports, are the extensive findings supporting the reality of the near-death experience, including reports from experiencers about information they could not have learned about otherwise (eg Long and Perry, 2010). Most relevant here is the finding that near-death experiences can occur when experiences are under anesthesia, when brain activity associated with consciousness is not present (Long and Perry, 2010), and when patients have been pronounced brain-dead (Sabom, 1998). (But see comments by Sam Parnia, at

Reports of the Borjigin et. al. study are now big news in the media. Why hasn't the media reported studies strongly suggesting that near-death experiences are real with equal enthusiasm, as well as other research supporting the "survival hypothesis"? (see e.g. Wambach, 1978).

Borjigin, J. Lee, U., Liu, T. Pal, D., Huff, S., Klarr, D. Sloboda, J., Hernandez, J. Wang, M. and Mashour, G. 2013. Surge of nuerophysiological coherence and connectivity in the dying brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Published online before print August 12, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1308285110  PNAS August 12, 2013
Long, J. and Perry, O. 2010. Evidence of the Afterlife. Harper One.
Sabom, M.  1998. Light and Death. Zondervan.
Wambach. H. 1978. Reliving Past Lives. Barnes and Noble.

The Journal of Near-Death Studies, begun in 1987, includes many careful studies of the near-death experience.

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