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(updated 10/30/13)

Blog post at New York Open Center, What near-death experiences tell us

What near-death experiences tell us

Robert G. Mays, B.Sc.

The similarities among all NDEs, regardless of the conditions that triggered them, imply there is a commonality among all of the cases that is not tied to specific physical or physiological conditions. Moreover, the common element appears to be the state of the NDEr’s consciousness:. All of this strongly suggests that the NDEr’s consciousness in fact separates from the physical body and operates independent of it during the NDE. And that implies that a person’s consciousness is an objective, autonomous entity in the world. The conventional scientific theory is that consciousness is produced by the brain’s electrical activity, but an equally valid interpretation—one which also explains NDE phenomena more fully—is that the person’s “mind” or “soul” or “spirit” interfaces with the brain to produce consciousness. This interpretation opens up a completely new way of viewing the nature of reality—that we are indeed, as Teilhard de Chardin put it, “spiritual beings having a human experience”.

(PDF, 94 KB, 2 pages)


Commentary on article, The Prophet, in Esquire by Luke Dittrich, July 2013

Esquire article on Eben Alexander distorts the facts

Robert G. Mays, B.Sc.


Luke Dittrich, contributing editor at Esquire, wrote an article critical of Dr. Eben Alexander's book Proof of Heaven. Dittrich cited several malpractice lawsuits against Dr. Alexander, in some of which the allegation was that Alexander had altered medical records to cover his errors. Dittrich makes this his theme for critiquing the story of Alexander's NDE, that Alexander altered the facts of his story to make them more dramatic. In particular, Dittrich questioned the central premise of the book, that Alexander's experience was the result of a brain all but destroyed by meningitis. Alexander's hyper-real experience of the heavenly Gateway Realm with the beautiful girl on the butterfly wing and the knowledge he gained from The Core, were all hallucinations resulting from a medically induced coma. Alexander thereby stood to gain financially. But how careful was Luke Dittrich with the facts he presented?

(PDF, 297 K, 15 pages)

Letter to the Editor submitted to the Journal of Near-Death Studies

Near-death experiences and EEG surges at end of life

Robert G. Mays, B.Sc., and Suzanne B. Mays

Lakhmir Chawla and colleagues (2009) reported that patients who were at end of life and had life support withdrawn – that is, no medications, IV infusions, or machine ventilation – exhibited a surge of electroencephalographic (EEG) activity just prior to complete arrest of blood flow and death. The researchers speculated that a similar surge of electrical brain activity may account for the near-death experiences (NDEs) of patients who suffer cardiac arrest but are revived. The observed EEG surges appear of sufficient duration and strength as to account for the vivid experiences reported in NDE. Of course, the immediate response to this conjecture is that many NDEs occur under conditions without these clinical circumstances (see Greyson, Kelly & Kelly, 2009), and, thus, the proposed connection does not provide a complete explanation of NDEs. Indeed, it is impossible to tell just what the deceased patient experienced in the final minutes. Nevertheless, Chawla and colleagues reported that the presence of an objectively measured electrical signal at the time of death has been a source of comfort to many of the families of these patients, indicating that “something” happens at the time of death. We propose an alternative explanation of this phenomenon.

(PDF, 134K, 6 pages)

Near-death experience research: History and perspectives

A Powerpoint presentation of the history of NDE research, presented as a lecture on May 18, 2011. (PDF, 2.0 MB, 29 slides)


What do NDEs tell us about consciousness?

A slide presentation summarizing our current theory of the self-conscious mind, presented at the local IANDS NDE support group and revised on April 18, 2009. (PDF, 17.4 MB, 44 slides)
  • Slides 1-11: what are NDEs, continuity of consciousness in cardiac arrest, veridical perceptions in NDE-OBE, phenomenology of NDE-OBE, physical interaction in NDE-OBE, what is consciousness
  • Slides 12-16: what do NDEs tell us about consciousness, evidence from NDEs, mind and body, mind versus body, union of mind and body
  • Slides 17-28: seven principles of mind-brain operation: 
    1. Brain electrical activity gives rise to consciousness
    2. There is a process of “coming to awareness”
    3. The mind follows the neural structures of the body
    4. The “mind structure” maps to brain structures and functions
    5. Cognitive function depends on brain structure
    6. The mind plays an active role in brain development
    7. Memory resides in the mind, not the brain
  • Slide   29: a new paradigm with explanatory and predictive power
  • Slides 30-32: explanation: Libet's paradox of delayed awareness of willed action
  • Slides 33-42: prediction: new phantom limb phenomena (3 short video clips accompany this section). 
    1. Slide 37: "Structure of the phantom fingers" (streaming video, 3 MB, 1'43)
    2. Slide 39: "Phantom limb interaction 1" (streaming video, 2.2 MB, 1'46)
    3. Slide 40: "Phantom limb interaction 2" (streaming video, 3.8 MB, 1'49)

PLEASE NOTE: These videos are copyrighted and are presented here to assist other researchers to analyze our research and provide comments. The videos and photographs are not to be copied, saved or republished without express written permission of the authors.

  • Slide  43: summary: the self-conscious mind
  • Slide  44: future work


The following letter to the Editor was published in the Journal of Near-Death Studies, 27(3), 195-201, Spring 2009.

On the scope of analysis for the AWARE study

Robert G. Mays, B.Sc., and Suzanne B. Mays

Regarding the AWARE study (AWAreness during REsuscitation) which will examine prospectively 1,500 survivors of cardiac arrest across 25 participating hospitals in Europe and North America for 36 to 60 months. The study organizers expect as many as 300 of the cardiac arrest survivors to report a near-death experience (NDE), of whom perhaps 30 to 60 patients will also report an out-of-body experience (OBE) with perceptions of the physical surroundings. We recommend that:
  • the study include collection and detailed verification of all NDE OBE perceptions, using a prescribed investigative protocol (1) to establish where the patient was “located” in the room, how long the patient was “present” and where the patient’s “attention” was focused during the resuscitation, (2) to record and verify all aspects of  the patient’s perceptions during the OBE portion in detail, especially purely visual, idiosyncratic perceptions, including the hidden images, (3) to collect independent detailed accounts from other relevant witnesses, and (4) to collect ancillary evidence from NDErs and witnesses.
  • the study focus verification on any idiosyncratic, purely visual perceptions that were out of the patient’s physical line of sight, but include all perceptions during the NDE OBE, since verified details of the perceived events of the resuscitation will help to establish when the perceptions occurred, which cannot be done from isolated reports of perceptions. This information can then be correlated with other information about the patient’s physiological condition.
(PDF, 49K, 4 pages)


A PowerPoint presentation of our Current Research Status as of April 2008.

These slides were presented to the staff of the Division of Perceptual Studies of the University of Virginia, Bruce Greyson, Division Director, on April 22, 2008. (PDF, 2.4 MB, 28 pages).



Research Request to NDErs who may have experienced interactions with physical objects or persons during their NDE:

The following article was printed in Vital Signs, the quarterly newsletter of IANDS, first quarter 2008:


Research Request: Details of Physical Interactions during NDE OBE
Robert G. Mays, B.Sc., and Suzanne B. Mays

We are looking for reports from NDErs of physical interactions while out of the physical body during the NDE. If during an NDE you experienced any interactions with:
  • physical light (e.g., seeing a source of light like a light bulb or readout from a medical monitor) 
  • physical sound (e.g., lights humming or monitors beeping) 
  • physical smells or tastes
  • physical touch (e.g., sensing the texture of a surface or sensations when passing through a physical object such as a wall)
  • the body of another person (that is, sensations in touching or passing through a person) 
  • the body of another person where their touch appeared to be felt (that is, in touching the person, the person felt the interaction in some way), or 
  • another person where the NDEr was able to “merge” with that person (that is, they could see and hear with their eyes and ears)
please contact us with details. Similarly if you have read or heard an account of an NDE with one of these unusual physical interactions, please contact us. (A more detailed article, PDF 29K, 2 pages).











 

Copyright © 2006-2013 Robert G. Mays and Suzanne B. Mays

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