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The Science Behind Near Death Experiences

Pop culture, the internet, and pretty much every medium imaginable is filled with stories about near death experiences. People that find themselves teetering on the brink between life and whatever comes after tend to tell tales of out-of-body or floating experiences and there is often a bright life involved as well. It seems that these stories are most common for those that have suffered severe cardiac arrest. And now science is looking into why people may be having these feelings as they return to life, according to MentalFloss.

Using rats outfitted with brain monitoring equipment, researchers at The University of Michigan induced cardiac arrest. Amazingly enough, after the heart stopped there was a burst of activity from the brain.

They used other methods to bring the rats to death to make sure that the results were the same. Sure enough, no matter how the heart was stopped, the brain kept going. In addition, patterns seem to indicate that there was also visual activity. Scientists speculate that after the heart stops, the brain keeps going for one last “hurrah” and that the visual activity may be the reason many people report seeing bright lights.

The experiments didn’t fully offer a complete explanation, but the scientists felt that they were one step closer to having a science-based reason for near death experiences. Too often they say that the discussion of things beyond death rely on philosophy and theology for explanations so having a piece of the puzzle solved with the reliable scientific method seems reassuring.

With so many movies, television series and other works focusing on near-death experiences the inclusion of science seems like it could cause the genre to peter out. Or maybe it just gives more reason to explore the events with pseudo-scientific storylines added to the mix?

[Image via Shutterstock]

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