Mod+ 278. DR. MICHAEL NAHM ON TERMINAL LUCIDITY AND NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE

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#2
Does the data get us anywhere once we've established that there's a reality to this phenomenon? Can we do much more with our basically materialistic based scientific tools and investigations when we're talking about this realm of extended consciousness.
Science can provide more data about the physiological state during these experiences. That can help us understand the interface between consciousness and brain. Statistical analysis of the experiences can tell us a lot, for example it can tell us about cultural similarities and differences.

But science is not the only way of determining the truth. The content of the experiences themselves don't require scientific analysis to understand. At their most basic level, they are self evident. To go beyond the surface and make inferences about the afterlife from the experiences is not necessary. A better alternative is to talk to spirits. There should be more funding for scientific research on evidential mediumship. But there is already a lot of information on the afterlife provided by evidential mediums. If mainstream scholars would accept the overwhelming evidence of the afterlife, then there could be a scholarly discussion of which sources of information about the afterlife obtained through evidential mediums are most reliable. That would go a long way to helping us understand the afterlife and NDEs without new experiments. The problem is not lack of information about the afterlife, the problem is that most people can't identify the misinformation about the afterlife. Scholarly research on existing information could help with that.

A rational application of the rules of evidence would be part of the process of determining what sources of information are reliable. This methodology does not depend on science.

Regarding hydrocephalus...
"In hydrocephalus the brain is not missing it is just compressed. When the fluid pressure is released the brain springs back."
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In hydrocephalus the brain is not missing it is just compressed. When the fluid pressure is released the brain springs back.

It is perhaps significant that many of the instances in which gross enlargement of cerebral ventricles is compatible with normal life are cases where the condition develops slowly. Gross surgical lesions in rat brains are known to inflict severe functional disruption, but if the same damage is done bit by bit over a long period of time, the dysfunction can be minimal. Just as the rat brains appear to cope with a stepwise reduction of available hardware, so too do the human brains in some cases of hydrocephalus.
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A group of researchers based at the New York University Medical Center has assembled a picture of the histological changes associated with hydrocephalus through experimental induction of the condition in cats. The group also observed the changes in tissue structure following the implantation of a shunt, the experimental equivalent to the normal treatment of hydrocephalus in humans. Speaking for the group, Fred Epstein says the following: "Hydrocephalus is principally a disease of the white matter. As the ventricles enlarge the layers of fibres above them begin to be stretched and very quickly they are disrupted, with the axons and the myelin sheaths surrounding them breaking down. Even in severe and extended hydrocephalus, however, the nerve cells in the gray matter were remarkably spared, though eventually there began to be a loss here too." The sparing of the gray matter even in severe hydrocephalus could go some way to explaining the remarkable retention of many normal functions in severely affected individuals.

Crucial to the approach to treatment of hydrocephalus is the brain's ability to recuperate following the release of fluid pressure when a shunt is implanted. One of the canons of neurobiology is that, once damaged, cells in the central nervous system are unable to repair themselves. Does Lorber's work dent this hallowed concept too? "When you implant a shunt in a young hydrocephalic child you often see complete restoration of overall brain structure, even in cases where initially there is no detectable mantle,"claims Lorber. "There must be true regeneration of brain substance in some sense, but I'm not necessarily saying that nerve cells regenerate,"he says cautiously; "I don't think anyone knows fully about that."

What, then, is happening when a hydrocephalic brain rebounds from being a thin layer lining a fluid-filled cranium to become an apparently normal structure when released from hydrostatic pressure? According to Epstein and on the basis of his colleagues' observations on experimental cats, the term rebound aptly describes the reconstitution process, with stretched fibres shortening, thus diminishing the previously expanded ventricular space. Within a short time scar tissue forms, constructed from the glial cells that pack between the nerve cells. "The reconstitution of the mantle,"report Epstein and his colleagues, "does not result in the reformation of lost elements, but rather in the formation of aglial scar and possibly a return to function of the remaining elements."

White matter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
White matter, long thought to be passive tissue, actively affects how the brain learns and dysfunctions. Although gray matter (composed of neurons) does the brain's thinking and calculating, white matter (composed of myelin-coated axons) controls the signals that neurons share, coordinating how well brain regions work together.[2]
Regarding the ancient sources of information about the afterlife ... the best evidence about what happens when we die and what it is like in the afterlife comes from modern evidential mediums and reports of NDErs. If there is a conflict with ancient sources, I would believe the more recent data, because we don't know the methodology of the ancient writers, and there is always the possibility of translation errors or cultural idioms that are lost in time. Furthermore, modern sources are more numerous and corroborating.
 
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Does the data get us anywhere once we've established that there's a reality to this phenomenon? Can we do much more with our basically materialistic based scientific tools of investigation when we're talking about this realm of extended consciousness?

The main thing is, to come up with a theory. The theory must be such as to open a whole vista of how thought, consciousness, and life itself works - this is not so hard, actually. Then the data that elaborate the theory will be a whole different set than what is presently practiced. It is as different a set of data as is the practice of bloodletting different from the use of penicillin for treatment of infection.

Today the data sets are formed according to dead, inert, lifeless hyperbole that simply stamps around in the same old muck. A theory that infuses reality into such research is presently available, in at least one person of us.

That tickles my imagination, that others also would tumble into this discovery.
 
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https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/elibs
The Leslie Flint Educational Trust: There is no source of information on the afterlife that is more reliable than this although other sources may be equally reliable.
http://www.leslieflint.com/leslieflint.html
I am a medium, I have a rare gift known as the independent direct voice. I do not speak in trance, I need no trumpets or other paraphernalia. The voices of the dead speak directly to their friends or relatives and are located in a space a little above my head and slightly to one side of me.They are objective voices which my sitters can record on their own tape recorders to play later in the privacy of their own homes. Sometimes those who speak from beyond the grave achieve only a whisper, hoarse and strain, at other times they speak clearly and fluently in voices recognizably their own during life.

I do my work by sitting wide awake in total darkness with other people. I know I have learnt more about life and people and human problems and emotions by sitting in the dark than I could possibly have learnt in any other way, and those who have taught me the most are people who, dead to this world, are living in the next.

Taken from Voices in the Dark, Leslie Flint's autobiography.
 
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Does the data get us anywhere once we've established that there's a reality to this phenomenon? Can we do much more with our basically materialistic based scientific tools of investigation when we're talking about this realm of extended consciousness?

The main thing is, to come up with a theory. The theory must be such as to open a whole vista of how thought, consciousness, and life itself works - this is not so hard, actually. Then the data that elaborate the theory will be a whole different set than what is presently practiced. It is as different a set of data as is the practice of bloodletting different from the use of penicillin for treatment of infection.

Today the data sets are formed according to dead, inert, lifeless hyperbole that simply stamps around in the same old muck. A theory that infuses reality into such research is presently available, in at least one person of us.

That tickles my imagination, that others also would tumble into this discovery.
Who's the person, and what's the theory you refer to?
 
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Alex's question at the end of the interview:

Does data get us anywhere once we've established that there's a reality to phenomena like terminal lucidity? Does materialistic science help in examining extended consciousness?
 
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Regarding the ancient sources of information about the afterlife ... the best evidence about what happens when we die and what it is like in the afterlife comes from modern evidential mediums and reports of NDErs. If there is a conflict with ancient sources, I would believe the more recent data, because we don't know the methodology of the ancient writers, and there is always the possibility of translation errors or cultural idioms that are lost in time. Furthermore, modern sources are more numerous and corroborating.
Exactly. As well as possible translation errors and lost cultural idioms there is also social and historical context. Though matters of life and death are always relevant, the concerns which weighed upon the minds of ancient peoples are not necessarily the same ones which concern us today. So even if we get an accurate translation and interpret the idioms correctly, ancient messages are not necessarily relevant to us. They may be seen as answers to the questions asked in those times. But if we are asking different questions, we need different answers. That's perhaps an uppermost reason for paying attention to modern sources.
 
#9
Does data get us anywhere once we've established that there's a reality to phenomena like terminal lucidity? Does materialistic science help in examining extended consciousness?

I think maybe the question could be a different one: will there ever be enough data to convince the ideologically sceptical that there may be something going on other than coincidence during periods of lucidity around the time of dying?

from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stafford-betty/the-miracle-of-terminal-l_b_5863492.html:

An elderly woman never speaks, no longer recognizes her loved ones when they come to visit, and shows no expression. By the looks of her, she is a human vegetable. And she's been this way for over a year. Her brain's cerebral cortex and hippocampus -- necessary for memory, thought, language, and normal consciousness -- are severely shrunk. Her brain bears little resemblance to a healthy one.

Yet something utterly astonishing is about to happen. As reported by both the nursing staff of her care unit and her family members: "Unexpectedly, she calls her daughter and thanks her for everything. She has a phone conversation with her grandchildren, exchanges kindness and warmth. She says farewell and shortly thereafter dies."

It's a fairly short article which I can thoroughly recommend, and Dr. Nahm is mentioned. You might also care to peruse a PDF file here:

deanradin.com/evidence/Nahm2011.pdf
(Copy the link and paste it into your browser's address bar to download the PDF).

This is authored by Dr. Nahm and Bruce Greyson amongst others.
 
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Temporary periods of lucidity are well known to occur in demented patients, but we have no satisfactory explanation for the mechanism behind these observations.

Li-Huei Tsai has shown that we can apparently restore the long-term memories of rodents whose brains have been deliberately subject to massive late stage Alzheimer-like damage - by 'robustly' restoring the the brains network using environmental enrichment.

The suggestion is that memory is not lost in Alzheimer's, but has merely become inaccessible. That's the key point for me.
 
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Thanks Alex, this was an excellent interview with a remarkably interesting researcher!

Temporary periods of lucidity are well known to occur in demented patients, but we have no satisfactory explanation for the mechanism behind these observations.

Li-Huei Tsai has shown that we can apparently restore the long-term memories of rodents whose brains have been deliberately subject to massive late stage Alzheimer-like damage - by 'robustly' restoring the the brains network using environmental enrichment.

The suggestion is that memory is not lost in Alzheimer's, but has merely become inaccessible. That's the key point for me.
When we talk about the brain being largely destroyed in advanced Alzheimers, does that mean that the neurons are dead?

If it does, that really does suggest that memories (and mind) are not stored in the brain, doesn't it? It also corresponds rather well with the concept that psychedelics temporarily reduce the operation of the brain (as suggested by those fMRI studies).

Also, can you tell us a bit about hydrocephalus? I mean is it really the case (as gets suggested) that all the neurons are there, but massively compressed? I mean, can you cut the volume of a cell by 90% or more, and it still function? We can't be talking about actual compression here, because aqueous matter isn't very compressible, we must be talking about matter squeezed out.

David
 
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Thanks Alex, this was an excellent interview with a remarkably interesting researcher!


When we talk about the brain being largely destroyed in advanced Alzheimers, does that mean that the neurons are dead?

If it does, that really does suggest that memories (and mind) are not stored in the brain, doesn't it? It also corresponds rather well with the concept that psychedelics temporarily reduce the operation of the brain (as suggested by those fMRI studies).

Also, can you tell us a bit about hydrocephalus? I mean is it really the case (as gets suggested) that all the neurons are there, but massively compressed? I mean, can you cut the volume of a cell by 90% or more, and it still function? We can't be talking about actual compression here, because aqueous matter isn't very compressible, we must be talking about matter squeezed out.

David
I've only looked at this on Tsai's studies... The expression of p25 protein improves memory retention in short bursts, it seems to do this by encouraging the formation of dendritic spines (see my avatar). Longer periods of p25 expression continues to increase spine density, but apparently at the expense of neurons and dendrites. Dendritic spine density continues to increase but there is substantial loss of neurons and dendrites. It suggests that some balance between dendrites/neurons and dendritic spines has been upset, one might visualise this as the spines scavenging from the dendrites, but that is probably incorrect.

In the study I linked to, massive neuronal/dendrite damage caused by a long period of p25 expression which causes memory loss, seems to be reversed by reestablishing the network of dendrites/neurons, and seems to recover memory.

Amongst other evidence, it certainly suggests to me that the popular idea of memory being 'totally' stored in the brain is incorrect. But it doesn't mean that memory is 'not' stored in the brain either. I know that sounds confusing, but I'm always thinking of these issues in terms of space and time. That is that patterns stored in space so that they can move through time (i.e. a complex pattern of brain networks) get processed over time (stored patterns interfere with one another), and probably vice versa. Whether that means memory is/is-not stored in the brain I will leave to others to argue about, it just seems rather irrelevant to me, it's just not practical to separate spatial and temporal.

I know very little about hydrocephalus I'm afraid.
 
#13
Who's the person, and what's the theory you refer to?
It's not just a matter of one person. I suppose that there may be thousands of such people. But I know of my own case, and the theory that to date, for me, answers each question that extraordinary reports and experiences bring to my attention.

In short, as a sound bite, one's consciousness is always and forever founded outside of that one AND simultaneously anchored, by literal reality, within the individual as its agent. Extraordinary experiences simply slip the anchorage, one's agency soaring without inertia and never dying.

A theory that would address such is presented, in a gangly and awkward fashion, on my website howthoughtworks.
 
#14
It's not just a matter of one person. I suppose that there may be thousands of such people. But I know of my own case, and the theory that to date, for me, answers each question that extraordinary reports and experiences bring to my attention. In short, as a sound bite, one's consciousness is always and forever founded outside of that one AND simultaneously anchored, by literal reality, within the individual as its agent. Extraordinary experiences simply slip the anchorage, one's agency soaring without inertia and never dying. A theory that would address such is presented, in a gangly and awkward fashion, on my website howthoughtworks.
http://howthoughtworks.com
 
#15
Amongst other evidence, it certainly suggests to me that the popular idea of memory being 'totally' stored in the brain is incorrect. But it doesn't mean that memory is 'not' stored in the brain either.
Well obviously memory could be stored in two places, but perhaps you are distinguishing between different types of memory. For example, memory of how to ride a bike (say) seems admirably suitable to be stored in part inside the connections between neurons - just as neural net theory suggests. Such memories can't be analysed - they simply develop with practice. I'd bet that the memory involved in reading and writing is also of this type - you don't consciously analyse the shape of each letter, and then try and fit the result together - the whole process is subconscious.

On the other hand, memories of how Newtonian dynamics or computer structure (say - and deliberately avoiding emotionally loaded areas) works seem utterly different - because you can manipulate such memories in all manner of different ways.
I know that sounds confusing, but I'm always thinking of these issues in terms of space and time. That is that patterns stored in space so that they can move through time (i.e. a complex pattern of brain networks) get processed over time (stored patterns interfere with one another), and probably vice versa. Whether that means memory is/is-not stored in the brain I will leave to others to argue about, it just seems rather irrelevant to me, it's just not practical to separate spatial and temporal.
Well such a pattern would presumably have to exist also in a static form - otherwise we would lose all our memories if we had an anaesthetic or cardiac arrest!

I think the question of where memories are stored is utterly vital! I mean, if they are only stored inside the head, then NDE's in which people communicate with their dead relatives simply have to be hallucinations. The NDEer's neurons may still be staggering on, but their dead relatives' neurons most certainly are not!

David
 
#16
Regarding hydrocephalus, John Lorber has published some work on this as many may know. Search for Science_No-Brain.pdf in google for the full report.

From reading this, it doesn't sound like the brain is compressed into tiny areas but missing altogether. Correct me if I am wrong.
 
#17
Also interesting results regarding hemispherectomies - with IQ's remaining the same after large portions of the brain is removed in ADULTS. I can't post links however (as a new member) but search for "Outcome after hemispherectomy in hemiplegic adult patients with refractory epilepsy associated with early middle cerebral artery infarcts"
 
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#18
Regarding hydrocephalus, John Lorber has published some work on this as many may know. Search for Science_No-Brain.pdf in google for the full report.

From reading this, it doesn't sound like the brain is compressed into tiny areas but missing altogether. Correct me if I am wrong.
Regarding hydrocephalus, in some instances reducing the pressure can aminorate the condition and some variants (i.e. normal pressure hydrocephalus) are more easier to threat. However, I would not say that it is as simple as "the brain springing back", usually several of the sympthoms recede to a point, but there is a limit and the condition is usually a lifelong hindrance. The infamous case that began it all used the premise "do we really need a brain?" because of the incredible severity of the condition. That patient had severe hydrocephalia that, as I recall, resembled hydranencephaly when seen in the scans. Perhaps Jim could clarify what he meant with that argument?

Also interesting results regarding hemispherectomies - with IQ's remaining the same after large portions of the brain is removed in ADULTS. I can't post links however (as a new member) but search for "Outcome after hemispherectomy in hemiplegic adult patients with refractory epilepsy associated with early middle cerebral artery infarcts"
Here you go:
http://www.rifters.com/real/articles/Science_No-Brain.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19183223

Edit: Included links.
 
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