Saturday, February 09, 2008

Reader asks: By what mechanism are near death experiences transmitted?

A reader writes,

... I'm reading The Spiritual Brain, and I already believe in the existence of the soul, in free-will, and life after death. But there is something that puzzles me about Near Death Experiences. If the brain shuts down at death, how can the revived person remember whatever experience he had while out of the body? Isn't memory a physical/chemical process? I'm inclined to believe that it is because you can lose memory through dementia, a blow to the head, etc. If memory were a spiritual process, I don't think a hammer blow would have an effect on one's recall, because a hammer can't have an effect on one's soul. So lets assume I have an NED, and the NED was truly an out of body experience. My brain did not go along with me to record the event. I return to life, and depend on my brain to recall the trip--but the brain wasn't along for that ride. The brain could not remember a remote event when it was not there to "record" it.

I replied,
If a person is clinically dead but on life support, his brain is not functioning but it is also not in the process of being destroyed by lack of oxygen, which is the usual fate of brains apart from high tech treatment.

Therefore, his brain is at least potentially a working organ.

Thus the question is, how does the mind transmit a perception of an experience to the currently inactive brain? If there is a time delay in the transmission, where is the experience in the meantime?

One thing that is becoming more apparent from studies of psychokinesis and correlations of the separated, which we address in The Spiritual Brain, is that our minds are not as tightly bound to our brains as was formerly believed.

Now, just what THAT proves may take many decades to unravel.