Renowned Neuroscientist Begins Serious Investigation Of Near-Death Experiences
Near-death experiences or NDEs are something that no one wants to go through but those who do tend to describe them as being peaceful or blissful. Why would such a horrific ordeal be viewed so positively? People have been asking that question for decades and scientists have been researching it too but to no avail.
However, famed neuroscientist Christof Koch, president and chief scientist of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, has some ideas. Koch has probed into historical accounts of NDEs and the underlying science of consciousness in an attempt to unravel what’s going on in a person’s brain that makes them feel blissful and accepting of their impending death.
As with anything peculiar, there are always plenty of theories about why something happens, even from the survivors who describe their experiences as spiritual. That said, Koch is a scientist and has stated that he prefers to remain strictly grounded in biology. That doesn't stop him from appreciating what some people go through, reportedly saying that these experiences are as authentic as any other subjective feeling or perception. Despite that, he still firmly believes all thoughts, memories, perceptions, and experiences are a consequence of the natural powers of the human brain, as opposed to a supernatural force or experience taking over.
Complete Shut Down
What does all this mean in relation to NDEs? Well, Koch hypothesizes that the main cause of an NDE is the brain shutting down. When core segments of the human brain shut down due to trauma or a lack of oxygen, it can give a skewed sense of reality. This is comparable to the resulting rush to that of extreme sports such as free diving or mountain climbing.
As local brain regions start to shut down, one by one, the mind attempts to tell a story using whatever neurons remain. As usual, these stories are shaped by a person's experiences, cultural expectations, and memory, all giving the impression of a real-life experience. This is what people going through an NDE will see.
The power of the brain knows no limits and even when close to completely shutting down, it still offers life-changing experiences for those who manage to survive the situation. While it may not be the most pleasant of experiences, it's still one that can have huge impacts, despite not knowing much about them. Koch’s theories about NDEs are still the best we have and show what really happens behind the scenes of the brain.