Are Near-Death Experiences Real?

August 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Mind Stretch

insightNew scientific research shines a new light on transformative near-death experiences — and proves they dramatically change how a person’s brainwaves operate. 

Willoughby Britton at the University of Arizona studied the brainwaves of persons who have had a positive, transformative near-death experiences. He found clear evidence their brainwave patterns are different from those who haven’t had a brush with death.

It’s interesting to see why some people are transformed and why some people aren’t… and whether studying people with positive near-death experiences can help the people who have negative experiences, Britton said. It’s a profound personality overhaul.

Britton found a distinct spike in activity in the left temporal lobe of people with positive near death experiences. The brain’s temporal lobe has often been implicated in reports of feelings of peace and tranquility — and the near-death reports of encountering a bright light, and having increased sensitivity to smells and sounds.

The left temporal lobe, the researcher said, is considered the God module, the part of the brain that connects with the transcendent. All of the activity that Britton recorded was from the left half of the brain — not the right half, which is more often associated with visual and spatial creativity.

“One hundred percent of the activity came from the left side, said Britton. There’s no logical reason for someone to have an accident and just have one side of their brain affected.”

Dr. Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia Health System who also studies people with near-death experiences agrees with Britton, and feels this proves that the mind-brain interaction is much more complex than scientists previously thought.

That discrepancy suggests that “our concepts of the role of the brain in mental life, and particularly in what appear to be transformative spiritual experiences, is far too limited,” Greyson said.

All those in Britton’s study who came close to dying scored higher on an evaluation of their ability to cope with stressful situations than those who did not have such a near-death experience — regardless of whether their near-death experience had been transformative or not.