The near-death experience has become a scientifically-researched issue that intrigues many people. It refers to someone’s personal experience, and it is associated with impending death. There is a wide range of feelings, emotions, and experiences that are said to happen such as levitation sensation, detachment from the body, warmth, serenity, security, and even a light’s presence. According to scientists, the curiosity of known what happens right before death is totally normal and natural. Still, they also state there are physical and rational explanations to what people see before they die.
7 Scientific Theories Regarding What People See Before They Die
#1. Damaged Temporoparietal Junction
Researchers said that out-of-body experiences are produced by a certain part of the brain’s malfunction. Our temporoparietal junction takes care of assembling data that our body’s organs and senses collect. When that part of the brain gets damaged, there is the possibility of experiencing out-of-body sensations. Many people who were near death but who recovered have reported this type of situation. Although this experience seems vivid and real, studies have shown that even healthy people can feel the same thing if they are electrically stimulated which sends certain signals to that specific brain part.
#2. The Dying Brain Theory
We are all mesmerized when someone who had a near-death experience tells a story about a powerful light and the way they wanted to go towards it. Well, according to Dr. Susan Blackmore, this is one of the strongest beliefs that people have. On the other hand, it has a logical explanation. It seems that this experience is not a spiritual afterlife journey. Instead, it is a sign of the dying brain.
Those who are skeptic even say that all brains die the same way, regardless of the culture and environment in which they were formed. The brain’s neurotransmitters shut down which creates those lightweight and weary sensations. However, when it comes to what people say before they die, there are not only plenty of opinions but also scientific explanations and theories. Moreover, researchers and scientists are divided. And this remains a controversial topic, until a certain point.
#3. The Hallucination Theory
Many people seem to have visions before death. Some scientists believe that brain’s endorphins and nervous system’s hormones are responsible for hallucinations once the dying process begins. Still, other specialists state that these body elements are the same ones that support marathon runners to continue and finish their long races, and they don’t have strange experiences. So, what do you see before you die? You might think that nobody really knows exactly what happens in those moments.
Dr. Ronald Siegel chooses to reject entirely the mystical importance of the near-death experience. He even claims to have recreated a similar situation in his laboratory by giving LSD to some volunteers. This might explain what people see before they die. Still, other specialists say that the two situations are not the same. Basically, they contradict Dr. Siegel’s theory.
#4. Lack of Oxygen and Excess Carbon Dioxide
Too much carbon dioxide in the brain can cause the tunnel and light effect, while the lack of oxygen creates hallucinations. Specialists can explain the presence of a white light and a long tunnel by the excess of carbon dioxide. Many people in the face of death seem to experience this sensation. According to specific research, terminally ill patients have more CO2 in their bloodstream than they should have. This affects their vision and makes them see something that resembles a tunnel or a bright light.
It is well-known the fact that many near-death experiences involve a dead friend’s appearance, who usually guides the individual through their passing away process. Furthermore, they seem to recall long-lost memories from their early life. These images have a rapid succession which fills the individual with an overwhelming feeling of calmness and comfort. This phenomenon takes place because of oxygen deprivation. You might say that the studies have their limitations, which is true until a certain point. Still, specialists declared that even patients with cardiac arrest had lower oxygen levels. It is something that most people express through “life flashing before their eyes.”
#5. Endorphins Release Under Extreme Stress
Deathbed visions and deathbed experiences have multiple causes, one of which is the release of endorphins in the brain. This is a well-known theory that states the way in which the brain reacts under a lot of stress and extreme situations. The release of endorphins can also be a proper and logical explanation of why near-death experiences are apparently calm. Individuals seem to feel no anxiety or fear with the approach of their life’s end. Dr. Daniel Carr, a neuropsychologist, has come up with this theory. According to him, contrary to popular belief, the near-death experience is rather calm and peaceful than terrible and painful.
#6. Brain Activity’s Boost Before Death
Doctors say that people who experience death visions and dying hallucinations have increased sensory perception. This is common for terminally ill patients on their death bed. Moreover, this brain spike makes individuals feel extra-sensorial perceptions. It is a so-called state of hyperconsciousness, and it happens within the first thirty seconds after the heart stops. Jimo Borjigin, a researcher, states that this theory proves and supports the entire biological basis for the so-called near-death experience and for what people see before they die.
#7. Distorted Sense of Time
Altered sense of time has a significant role in the whole near-death experience. Some neurosurgeons state that these sensations that translate into an extra-sensorial experience might even last for several days, especially for comatose patients. Still, there are other opinions that state the contrary. It seems that the entire experience lasts no more than 20 or 30 seconds, but it seems like a longer thing for the patient. Dr. Oliver Sacks said that, according to his research, near-death experiences usually happen when a patient surfaces back from the coma. This is when his/her cerebral cortex returns to full function.
Summing It Up
What people see before they die remains a controversial subject, although there are many theories that try to explain it. A lot of doctors, researchers, and specialists have tried to come up with logical yet complex theories and explanations. Still, religious views and neurology theories don’t necessary contradict each other. While doctors have created a wide range of theories and developed plenty of studies, some experiences are simply inexplicable, and they leave room for further debate.