Consciousness After Death

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Consciousness After Death

#1  Postby Sovereign » Dec 28, 2013 10:16 pm

Sam Parnia practices resuscitation medicine. In other words, he helps bring people back from the dead — and some return with stories. Their tales could help save lives, and even challenge traditional scientific ideas about the nature of consciousness.

“The evidence we have so far is that human consciousness does not become annihilated,” said Parnia, a doctor at Stony Brook University Hospital and director of the school’s resuscitation research program. “It continues for a few hours after death, albeit in a hibernated state we cannot see from the outside.”

Resuscitation medicine grew out of the mid-twentieth century discovery of CPR, the medical procedure by which hearts that have stopped beating are revived. Originally effective for a few minutes after cardiac arrest, advances in CPR have pushed that time to a half-hour or more.

New techniques promise to even further extend the boundary between life and death. At the same time, experiences reported by resuscitated people sometimes defy what’s thought to be possible. They claim to have seen and heard things, though activity in their brains appears to have stopped.

Full article here

Normally I ignore these articles but Wired did this one so I took a look at it. The lingering question I always have (read the section in the article about the chicken or the egg) is the concussion aspect of consciousness. Why don't people experience NDEs after concussions? Also, I haven't found how those who hold this (mind beyond matter) position respond to the fact that NDEs can be recreated in controlled situations or that not one person as actually read a single AWARE sign in the OR after they "died".
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Re: Consciousness After Death

#2  Postby chairman bill » Dec 28, 2013 11:32 pm

“There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.” Terry Pratchett
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Re: Consciousness After Death

#3  Postby DavidMcC » May 09, 2014 4:49 pm

Sovereign wrote:
Sam Parnia practices resuscitation medicine. In other words, he helps bring people back from the dead — and some return with stories. Their tales could help save lives, and even challenge traditional scientific ideas about the nature of consciousness.

“The evidence we have so far is that human consciousness does not become annihilated,” said Parnia, a doctor at Stony Brook University Hospital and director of the school’s resuscitation research program. “It continues for a few hours after death, albeit in a hibernated state we cannot see from the outside.”

Resuscitation medicine grew out of the mid-twentieth century discovery of CPR, the medical procedure by which hearts that have stopped beating are revived. Originally effective for a few minutes after cardiac arrest, advances in CPR have pushed that time to a half-hour or more.

New techniques promise to even further extend the boundary between life and death. At the same time, experiences reported by resuscitated people sometimes defy what’s thought to be possible. They claim to have seen and heard things, though activity in their brains appears to have stopped.

Full article here

Normally I ignore these articles but Wired did this one so I took a look at it. The lingering question I always have (read the section in the article about the chicken or the egg) is the concussion aspect of consciousness. Why don't people experience NDEs after concussions? ...

I guess that NDEs are a kind of hallucination, brought on by the methylation of the wrong aromatic compounds by the brain's pineal gland, which only occurs when you are closer to death than mere concussion. Normally, the pineal gland "manufactures" melatonin from the amino acid, tryptophan:
THE PINEAL GLAND: A Neuroendocrine Transducer of Light Information

However, when you are dying, the wrong chemicals may get in, and result in chemicals similar to DMT ( = dimethyltoluene) being made instead.
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Re: Consciousness After Death

#4  Postby DavidMcC » May 09, 2014 4:56 pm

The above process apparently occurs after certain stages of death, some of which were once considered to be the final stages.
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Re: Consciousness After Death

#5  Postby Animavore » May 09, 2014 5:05 pm

Funny that this thread should come back from the dead just as I'm talking about Parnia open another forum. Are there any papers pertaining to DMT being produced in the brain, David?
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Re: Consciousness After Death

#6  Postby DavidMcC » May 21, 2014 3:29 pm

Animavore wrote:Funny that this thread should come back from the dead just as I'm talking about Parnia open another forum. Are there any papers pertaining to DMT being produced in the brain, David?

Yes. There's a 1987 one referenced here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_death_experience#Biological_analysis_and_theories
Of course, there was also contradictory work, such as this:


Note, however, that the speaker is talking about the circumstances of "no neural activity whatsoever", so that would rule out hallucinations to start with, DMT-related or not! He is surely describing the circumstances under which the subject would have no consciousness whatseoever, regardless of whether it connected to the outside world or was internally generated.
BTW, I don't think actual DMT, as such, would necessarily be the culprit, only a DMT-like, methylated aromatic compound.
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Re: Consciousness After Death

#7  Postby DavidMcC » May 21, 2014 3:34 pm

... In other words, the two links are not talking about the same thing. Hallucinations are reported in some cases of NDE, but these necesarily do not occur when ALL brain activity has ceased, obviously!

Clearly, the way subjects interpret their hallucinations depends a lot on their mindset. EG, a religious person would tend to say they saw "heaven" or "God", or whatever, whereas others might describe it differently. What is clear is that these hallucinations can happen (provided brain death does not go to completion, which would imply that the subject had actually died, not merely nearly!), and that they often have certain features in common, such as the "light at the end of the tunnel".
EDIT: Furthermore, the specific case reported here is not sufficient to draw scientific conclusions. He would have to repeat the exercise on many other subjects to be sure of a meaningful conclusion.
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Re: Consciousness After Death

#8  Postby DavidMcC » May 21, 2014 3:51 pm

... It is also possible that taking the NDE too far towards actual death could wipe the subject's memory of any hallucination experienced before the NDE had finished! :dunno:
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Re: Consciousness After Death

#9  Postby Kenaz » May 21, 2014 4:09 pm

I think it is equally naive and foolish to assume we understand consciousness and the mind already, that there are things we do not presently understand as it is to assume that there is an afterlife in the context of Judea-Christian anecdotes. Don't believe any of it, but if it is worthwhile to you (as it is to me), don't stop exploring and researching it.
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Re: Consciousness After Death

#10  Postby Shrunk » May 21, 2014 5:12 pm

Kenaz wrote:I think it is equally naive and foolish to assume we understand consciousness and the mind already.


We know that they arise from brain processes, to the extent that we "know" anything in science.

As Sean Carroll said in a recent debate on this topic: We don't fully understand gravity, yet, either. But that does not make it reasonable to speculate that the moon is being pushed around the earth by millions of fairies.
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