light at the end of the tunnelNear-death experiences (NDE), like hovering over one’s body or meeting deceased relatives and friends, are mind games rather than insights into the afterlife, claim British scientists.

Psychologists from the University of Edinburgh and the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Britain concluded that those who “die” and come back to life describe experiences that are merely “dysfunctional manifestations of physiological brain functions“.

The brain is very good at deception“, said Dr. Carolyn Watt, researcher at the School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences of the University and founder of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit.

The researchers believe that many phenomena associated with near-death condition occur due to the effort of the brain to understand unusual sensations and perceptions that take place during a traumatic event.

Some of the results of our study showed that many of those who “witnessed” their own death, had no real danger of dying, but most believed they were dying. The scientific evidence suggests that all aspects of near-death experiences have a biological basis “, said Dr. Watt.

Feeling death

One of the most commonly reported features of near-death experience is the feeling of having died. However, people with Cotard’s syndrome (Walking Corpses Syndrome) experience the same feeling, according to the journal Trends in Cognitive Science. This syndrome is a rare neuropsychiatric disorder associated with the hallucinatory conviction of having died or having lost the blood or internal organs. In very rare cases, it can include delusions of immortality. This syndrome has been observed after severe injuries or in patients with end-stage diseases such as typhoid fever and multiple sclerosis.

Out-of-body experience

Out-of-body experiences, when one feels of floating over his own body and even can see it from the above, are also referred very often. However, an experiment conducted by scientists of Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland showed that such kind of experiences can be artificially reproduced by the stimulation of the right angular gyrus in the parietal lobe of the brain, which plays a significant role in perception and awareness.

Light at the end of the tunnel

The tunnel of light, often mentioned by people who believe they came close to death, also can be reproduced artificially.

Pilots, flying with acceleration, sometimes suffer from hypertensive heart attack, a disorder that occurs due to the rapid increase in blood pressure and causes a partial loss of sight for up to 8 seconds, which literally makes a person see the light “at the end of the tunnel”.

There is another assumption that it is a kind of optical illusion that might be explained by the reduced blood and oxygen supply of the eyes.

Bliss and euphoria

Such kind of sensation can be even more easily reproduced artificially. In fact, exactly the same sensations are provoked by drugs like amphetamines and by noradrenaline, a hormone produced by the midbrain that can provoke positive emotions and hallucinations that may be associated with near-death experiences.

In combination, the scientific evidence suggests that all aspects of NDE have neurophysiological and psychological basis“, concluded the researchers.

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Anna LeMind

Anna LeMind

Anna is the founder and lead editor of the website She is passionate about learning new things and reflecting on thought-provoking ideas. She writes about science, psychology and other related topics. She is particularly interested in topics regarding introversion, consciousness and subconscious, perception, human mind's potential, as well as the nature of reality and the universe.