General discussion of NDE's and OBE's

Discussion in 'Consciousness & Science' started by David Bailey, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    This thread is to explore Small Dog's views on the nature of NDE's. Hopefully he will copy some of his posts out of the Stephen Braude thread and make his argument into a coherent whole.

    David
     
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  2. Shouldn't this be in the Critical Debate forum?
     
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  3. tim

    tim New

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    I've recently "spoken to two people who had profound NDE's (I'm not a researcher just to reiterate). They were both equally fascinating for different reasons. One because of a detailed OBE in the resuscitation room and the other because of the "travels" out of a body that was lying comatose on the fourth floor of the hospital he was in.

    I posted the first one last week or so but the second OBE mirrored the "travelling OBE" (kind of thing) of Viola Horton (deceased now) who after she exited her body in a hospital (after she died during surgery) desired to see her two sisters. Many on here will know this story so I won't repeat it (unless someone wants me to)

    The guy I spoke to had never heard of her story, he thought previously that NDE's were the product of an over inventive mind but during his NDE, he described having the same desire to meet (again) people from his past who he wanted to catch up with...and he did just that and he has witnesses to prove it BTW.

    What intrigues me about all this is that he told me that he just had to think where he wanted to be (Something like "I want to see such and such a body") and he said he was INSTANTLY there. Actually there. Which is just the same as Viola Horton's report ....

    He was even able to memorise some mail inside the door of one of the houses he "visited " in his OBE state. Leaving aside how impossible all this sounds and how amusing the sceptics find tales like this, the guy is sound, completely normal (formerly a sceptic) and insists it actually happened like that, just like Viola Horton.

    So how can that be explained by brain chemicals and stimulation of the angular gyrus ?
     
  4. Small Dog

    Small Dog New

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    HI, guys. I don't intend to troll the forum or be argumentative for pure sake of it. I want to believe that NDEs are the proof that consciousness survives death and continues on living. So far though I find that most cases can be explained from the point of view of the current science: visions during NDEs are caused by biochemical disturbances in the brain. Sure, some cases are more mysterious than others, such as OBEs during anaesthesia. But then again, nothing is one hundred percent bulletproof, you get pharnmacogenetic, biochemical and physiological outliers, and the fact that someone got adequate amount of drugs does not mean one hundred percent that they cannot have experiences during anaesthesia. Every anaeshetist can tell you about patients who had awareness, it happens at the rate of 1:1000 on the average. Some of them are straightforward and some are not (and some are imagined, which becomes clear after detailed questioning).

    As far as OBEs are concerned, have a look at this video. The car can view itself from above, with six on board cameras and a relatively simple processor. Imagine what kind of picture can human mind create.

     
  5. Small Dog

    Small Dog New

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  6. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    The thought of sacrificing 26 cats for this experiment is pretty horrible to me, but let's put that to one-side.

    Thanks for moving to this thread!

    I can't really judge the contents, except to point out that work like this seems to indicate just how little is really known about consciousness. I mean the traditional concept has (and I think still is) that consciousness resides in the cerebral cortex - so for example medical students would perform experiments on de-cerebrate rabbits (is that still the case?) and those who cared were assured that because the cerebral cortex generates consciousness, those rabbits felt no discomfort!

    I mean, I think one of Alex's points is to contrast the certainty with which we are told how consciousness is now being understood, with the absolutely basic uncertainty that discussions of this sort reveal!

    The EEG is a basic tool of medicine - so perhaps you could summarise that paper in layman's language - did they establish that these unfortunate animals were in fact conscious to some degree while having a flat-line EEG, and if so, how did they establish consciousness?

    However, if you listen to NDE reports, the striking thing is that consciousness doesn't just survive the cessation of blood flow, it seems to expand. NDE's are usually described as exceptionally vivid and well remembered. In contrast, I remember discussing my father's condition as he lay in hospital with a severe stroke that killed him a few hours later. The doctor gave him a 20% chance of recovery, but he added that if he did, he would almost certainly have no recollection of that period of time. Over and over we are told that people who recover from brain injury suffer amnesia round the period in question - so how do you square that up with the idea that extremely vivid and well remembered events (real or hallucinatory) happen when the brain is close to permanent death?

    It might also be worth discussing Pam Reynolds' NDE here. This extended over a period when her brain was cooled and drained of blood for surgery! If there is a materialist explanation of NDE's, it absolutely must explain more or less every case - not just a subset. N explanations for N subsets is much less convincing.

    Can you also amplify your explanation of the typical overhead view of people undergoing NDE's with an analogy with parking sensors. I didn't get it, and I wasn't sure if you meant that seriously. In this context, I tend to think of the very limited view of proceedings I get while sat in the dentist's chair - fully conscious. It is difficult to even observe the tools that are being used.

    Part of what frustrates is the extreme fluidity of the conventional understanding of the brain - it seems capable of morphing to 'explain' any observation it doesn't like!

    David
     
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  7. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    Re NDE OBE's... As far as I'm concerned the car analogy is the correct way to start thinking about floaty NDE OBE's... i.e. the classic hospitalised NDE OBE following cardiac arrest (local with veridical elements). Bear in mind that in your example it needs 6 cameras (i.e. some visual data) to be able to relay a useful image with veridical elements to the in-car vdu - some information that should not otherwise be available to the driver from their seated position.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016
  8. tim

    tim New

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    "The car can view itself from above,"

    Well that's quite an amazing feat for a car to accomplish. Even more so if it then went down a tunnel and met cars that had long since been consigned to the scrap heap ! Being serious I just don't get that analogy, a sort of crude comparison to Olaf Blanke's goggles and camera at the back of the head experiment which proved nothing.
     
  9. tim

    tim New

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    I thought you'd like that Max :)
     
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  10. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    Lol... it's a useful analogy... more than one perspective and you get the floaty experience... just one perspective and you get a first-person experience.
     
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  11. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Right - now to be clear, your concept involves something like ESP between the medical workers and the patient. I wonder if Small Dog is taking that on board - that is the only way we get all those extra sensors!

    More to the point, I am deeply suspicious of amazing faculties that only appear on the point of death, but don't mean anything metaphysical! I mean, looked at in terms of evolution, there is absolutely no reason for any death-related mechanisms to evolve!

    I wish Small Dog would also take on board the fact that even the view from a dentist's chair is hugely limited. I'll bet the view while being resuscitated would be even more restricted, and dominated by pain. Presumably the eyes would also not be focused or converged correctly. Furthermore, I seem to remember that the eye has to preform fast movements all the time to prevent the retina habituating to a light pattern
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saccade

    Does anyone know if these saccades operate while in cardiac arrest - I would imagine they don't!


    David
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
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  12. tim

    tim New

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    In cardiac arrest, consciousness is lost instantly. Nothing operates and all global electrical activity ceases within 10-20 seconds. I've seen this first hand and it's quite shocking how fast it is. (I'm not a doctor BTW)

    Above I referred to two people who had suffered cardiac arrest. One of those, Ray is speaking about his experience. He doesn't cover all of it but it's fascinating.

    http://nhneneardeath.ning.com/video...e-man-who-dies-10-times-in-one-night-and-goes
     
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  13. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Right - but because people still discount all the observations NDE people make of their resuscitation process, I think it is worth pointing out that their eyes would be very badly positioned to see anything, unfocused, and not performing those saccades - so they couldn't get the information that they return with!

    David
     
  14. Small Dog

    Small Dog New

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    Ok, a short rehash of the study I linked.

    The study looked at EEG patterns in comatose patients and cats. They start with the note that the interpretation of EEG in comatose patients is often difficult because of the lack of the dynamic progression of the patient's state. In other words we don't know where the patient is in terms of progression from awake to brain dead. As an example they show EEG recording of the patient who survived cardiac arrest and presented with generalised seizures, a very negative prognostic sign. Because of these seizures the patient was given ant epileptic drugs, including Thiopentone, an induction agent that - in short - is used to induce coma. This patient is in deep coma and his ECG demonstrates two dominant patterns: ripples and cV complexes. After anti-epileptic drugs were discontinued few days later EEG started displaying the pattern known as burst suppression, typical for deep coma. So, the message here is that in spite of coma induced by anti-epileptic drugs EEG still displayed some activity: ripples and cV complexes.

    In order to check what these complexes are the authors take 26 unlucky cats, give them general anaesthesia with Isoflurane - an anaesthetic gas - and record EEG, which shows typical pattern for decreased level of activity in the brain. Then electrodes are inserted into the cortex and other areas of the brain. Then the concentration of Isoflurane is gradually increased. EEG progresses from wakeful pattern to Slow-wave Sleep-like (SWS) to burst suppression (BS), which is characteristic for general anaesthesia (as well as hypoxia, cardiac arrest, hypothermia etc., but this is another topic), to flat line. What's new in this study is that when anaesthesia is deepened past that point the EEG activity get re-vitalised, showing "sharp EEG waves occurring quasi-rhythmically at frequencies below 1 Hz". Because this waves are newly discovered the authors call them Nu-complexes, or vC. Because these waves have not been reported the question is: where are they coming from.

    Electrodes inserted into the brain recorded EEG activity activity in every studied region. First, the cortex, mostly in the deep cortical layers, reflecting "massive and synchronous cellular excitation". vC complexes were present in all areas tested with field electrodes: thalamus, basal forebrain, brainstem and hippocampus. However, the highest amplitude was recorded in hippocampal region, and other structures were lagging hippocampus by at least 10 ms, "suggesting that the hippocampus might be the key structure for generating νCs".

    Moreover, simultaneous cortical and hippocampal field potential recordings also emphasized another activity exclusively present in this subcortical structure: faster ripple oscillations that were observable even during the cortical isoelectric line.

    There is much more detail in the article, but the key message is that during isoelectric EEG there is electrical activity in underlying cerebral structures, predominantly hippocampus.
     
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  15. Small Dog

    Small Dog New

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    Tim, could you elaborate on this? Where did you see it? How was global electrical activity measured etc.
     
  16. Small Dog

    Small Dog New

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    I think this topic has several points of argument and should be approached systematically. Before I break it down I want to make it clear that I am not a consciousness materialist and don't believe that consciousness equals brain (though brain does play significant role in it). I am with Dennet and Blackmore on the view of consciousness and do not think that NDE and its associated phenomena are proof that personal consciousness can survive death of physical body.

    In my view there are several points of argument as far as NDE is concerned.

    1. When do NDEs happen: before, during or after cardiac arrest?
    2. Electrical activity during cardiac arrest and resuscitation: is it always zero?
    3. Does flat surface EEG mean that there is no activity in the brain?
    3. The phenomenon of OBE.

    Feel free to add more points, either for or against.
     
  17. Pollux

    Pollux New

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  18. Small Dog

    Small Dog New

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    An article of cerebral oximetry during CPR. One of the co-authors is the forum's darling Sam Parnia.


    A pilot study examining the role of regional cerebral oxygen saturation monitoring as a marker of return of spontaneous circulation in shockable (VF/VT) and non-shockable (PEA/Asystole) causes of cardiac arrest.


    Circa 2013. They used cerebral oximetry on patients who had cardiac arrests and CPR. Cerebral oximetry measures the oxygenation of the brain by shining the light of various wave lengths through the scull. The results of the study indicate that people who survived resuscitation had higher cerebral oxygenation than those who didn't. Those who survived arrest had oximetry values in the 40% +, and nobody with values below 30% made it.

    Normal values of cerebral oxygenation vary between 60 and 80%. The point I am making is that brain does receive oxygen during CPR (which indicates the presence of blood flow), and in survivors it is relatively well preserved.
     
  19. Szechuan

    Szechuan New

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    I think Small Dog is probably Gerald Woerlee
     
  20. tim

    tim New

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    You claim to be an anaesthetist, small dog (and that's fine) but you don't seem to understand the significance of cardiac arrest. The cats you refer to above were not dead (as in cardiac arrest) .

    At the end of the first paragraph you then state this :

    "After anti-epileptic drugs were discontinued few days later EEG started displaying the pattern known as burst suppression, typical for deep coma. So, the message here is that in spite of coma induced by anti-epileptic drugs EEG still displayed some activity: ripples and cV complexes."

    The EEG STILL displayed some activity.....yes, the activity of burst suppression..... which as an anaesthetist you should know prohibits any kind of experience let alone a whiff of consciousness. Burst suppression is the ultimate and deepest anaesthetic state possible (without killing the patient) so what has this got to do with patients being aware ?. Anaesthesiologists (as you will know) don't even have to achieve burst suppression to remove consciousness as you do everyday presumably..

    General anaesthesia does that (as you will know) ..it puts the patient into a reversible coma, they're not merely asleep. The information I've posted on here is not my opinion, it's medical orthodoxy accepted by your profession available for anyone like myself (a layperson) to read and digest.. Cardiac arrest is the same as death and if nothing is done to reverse it, the patient will stay dead. NDE research is not being carried out on people in comas or cats in comas, it's
    studied using people that have been dead (for a short time usually)
     
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