Oxygen deprivation causes near-death experiences, study suggests

There have been countless stories through the years of people that have gone through near-death experiences, ranging from tales of floating above their own hospital beds to traveling towards a heavenly bright light, but are these simply because of chemical changes in the body?

That\’s exactly what the authors of the new study, now available on the internet and scheduled for publication in the journal Proceedings of the Nas (PNAS) argue C specifically, that oxygen deprivation causes changes in the brain that are interpreted as near-death experiences.

As Discovery News reported on Friday, the authors from the study induced anoxia (total depletion of oxygen levels) in rats, then examined the response of neurotransmitters, changes in electrical activity in heart and brain activity, and brain-heart connectivity in those rodents.

\”We performed continuous electrocardiography and electroencephalography in rats undergoing experimental asphyxia, and analyzed cortical discharge of core neurotransmitters, alterations in brain and heart electrical activity, and brain-heart connectivity,\” wrote experts at the University of Michigan Departments of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Neurology, and Neuroscience Graduate Program and the Michigan Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care.

\”Asphyxia stimulates a strong and sustained increase of functional and efficient cortical connectivity, an instantaneous increase in cortical release of a large set of neurotransmitters, and a delayed activation of corticocardiac functional and effective connectivity that persists until the start of ventricular fibrillation,\” they added. \”These results show asphyxia activates a brainstorm, which accelerates premature death of the heart and also the brain.\”

In short, in the moment just before death, the brain activity increases and may actually speed cardiac demise, MedicalDaily.com explained. This same flurry of mental liveliness probably can also be the building blocks of out-of-body or spiritual near death experiences, the authors claim.

In the 30-second period following the hearts from the asphyxiated rats stopped beating, the UM research team witnessed an instantaneous discharge of more than a dozen neurochemicals, as well as a spike in the high-frequency brainwaves known as gamma oscillations, the web site added. This appeared to trigger an association between the heart and brain, and the authors believe that similar increases in brain activity levels might happen in humans during their near-death experiences.

Such activity, the UM researchers propose, creates a heightened state of consciousness that can result in the out-of-body or spiritual visions experienced by cardiac arrest survivors. Using drugs to produce a blockade from the brain-heart connections allowed them to significantly delay your ventricular fibrillation (which prevents the lower chambers of the heart from pumping) and could enhance the chances of survival in patients experiencing a heart attack.

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