Terminal Lucidity

#1
Hi, I'm new so please be gentle....;)

Ian Waddell and I were just discussing this phenomenon -- terminal lucidity -- in the 'introduce yourself' thread, and I thought it worthy of further discussion than we could obviously give it there.

This is one of those unexplained phenomena that could have a physical cause but also may point to chinks in the armor of physicalist explanations for consciousness. Folks near death will occasionally 'rally' and become conscious briefly or show some sign of improved abilities shortly before death. I've seen the phenomenon myself. It is not common by any stretch of the imagination -- most folks in comas never regain consciousness before death.

I would need do a little more digging to see which types of patients show this change since I haven't seen it in years (my practice is now entirely outpatient based, thank goodness) and can't recall particulars the few times I have witnessed it. Perhaps Linda (whom I'm very happy to see is in this forum) could chime in with examples of her own.

I can generate at least one theory how this is possible on a physicalist account but would be very happy to hear from others what you think.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
You'll have to repost this in Critical Discussions if you want skeptic input.

Or you might request to have the thread moved by a mod. I think you do this by reporting your own thread, but I'm not sure.
 
#3
You'll have to repost this in Critical Discussions if you want skeptic input.

Or you might request to have the thread moved by a mod. I think you do this by reporting your own thread, but I'm not sure.
Thanks, does the noob show? I'll see what I can do.


ETA:

Just reposted where you suggested, again, thank you.

Could a mod please close or eliminate this thread since it is now superfluous? Sorry for the double post but I obviously didn't know the proper procedure.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#4
Well, you didn't do anything wrong so no need for apologies. :)

On the subject of Terminal Lucidity....I don't really know anything about it. I recall there was a discussion about it but I don't recall anything conclusive.
 
#6
Phil,

Let's start with some data:

http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/death-bed-visions-301825.html

(mixed in with a lot of speculation and discussion)

OK, it is just a forum for nurses, but they are the people who get to see this phenomenon most, I think.

As I remember, some of the cases deal with lucidity in those dying of dementia - where the brain is supposed to be infested with plaques that stop it working.

I dare say you can think of some sort of conventional explanation - but does it convince even you?

I think we would all like to hear about your practical experiences and discuss your theory.

P.S. It isn't that easy for anyone genuinely interested in our subject to break the rules here!

David
 
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#7
Phil,

Let's start with some data:

http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/death-bed-visions-301825.html

OK, it is just a forum for nurses, but they are the people who get to see this phenomenon most, I think.

As I remember, some of the cases deal with lucidity in those dying of dementia - where the brain is supposed to be infested with plaques that stop it working.

I dare say you can think of some sort of conventional explanation - but does it convince even you?

I think we would all like to hear about your practical experiences and discuss your theory.

P.S. It isn't that easy for anyone genuinely interested in our subject to break the rules here!

David

Thanks, David. Those reports -- the ones I looked at, which were quite a few, were mostly a different phenomenon (seeing things and reaching out near death), though there was one that clearly alluded to terminal lucidity in a person with dementia. There is still lots of missing data which makes it hard to explain much of anything -- such as what was the proximate cause of death. I think it might matter.

Dementia is a very complex disease process and we do not understand completely the precise interaction between plaques and tangles (in Alzheimer's) and decline in mental function. In the nun study there was one individual whose brain was loaded with plaques and tangles but who showed no clear signs of dementia; others had many fewer plaques and tangles but were severely demented -- the important difference appearing to be the number of stokes or 'microstrokes' the person sustained. There is another issue, which is that we sometimes see transient improvements in folks with dementia for unclear reasons, but those improvements are never long-lived. We also see sudden transient declines in function for unclear reasons, sometimes with gradual improvement to prior baseline (much of the time this is due to infection but not always) but more often establishing a new baseline at lower cognitive function.

Add to this the improvement folks show with drugs like Aricept and Namenda -- all transient -- and the picture is murkier still. We know how Aricept, Exelon, etc. work -- they increase acetylcholine in the brain. As someone dies there is often a significant autonomic response and this would include an increase in neurotransmitter release in the brain, primarily in core areas responsible for alertness and awareness. I would expect to see improvement in certain types of patients, given this scenario, but not others (where the brain damage is too profound) or cause of death is too sudden. Increased forebrain activity would certainly account for transient improvements in awareness.

At best, though, this can only be conjecture because we simply haven't enough data to make firm conclusions either way. I wouldn't put any more credence in my conjecture than in the possibility of consciousness being separate from the body until we can study the phenomenon. And it would be exceedingly hard to study. I don't think many of the dying would want to participate anyway.

ETA:
I should also add that there is one form of dementia (which comprises several different diseases) that is characterized by swings in lucidity -- Lewy body dementia. So that further clouds the picture.
 
#8
Thanks, David. Those reports -- the ones I looked at, which were quite a few, were mostly a different phenomenon (seeing things and reaching out near death), though there was one that clearly alluded to terminal lucidity in a person with dementia. There is still lots of missing data which makes it hard to explain much of anything -- such as what was the proximate cause of death. I think it might matter.
You would need to sift through to find the cases you want, though by the sounds of it, the two categories are somewhat related, and both are interesting. Deathbed visions also include phenomena that seem to include those witnessing the death. Clearly you could argue that these are of a psychological nature, but you could (I suppose) dismiss all NDE's that don't involve observations of the resuscitation in the same way.
Dementia is a very complex disease process and we do not understand completely the precise interaction between plaques and tangles (in Alzheimer's) and decline in mental function. In the nun study there was one individual whose brain was loaded with plaques and tangles but who showed no clear signs of dementia; others had many fewer plaques and tangles but were severely demented -- the important difference appearing to be the number of stokes or 'microstrokes' the person sustained.
Doesn't that possibly more illustrate the very limited scientific understanding of consciousness?
There is another issue, which is that we sometimes see transient improvements in folks with dementia for unclear reasons, but those improvements are never long-lived. We also see sudden transient declines in function for unclear reasons, sometimes with gradual improvement to prior baseline (much of the time this is due to infection but not always) but more often establishing a new baseline at lower cognitive function.
Maybe these phenomena are related, but that doesn't tell us anything about what they signify.
Add to this the improvement folks show with drugs like Aricept and Namenda -- all transient -- and the picture is murkier still. We know how Aricept, Exelon, etc. work -- they increase acetylcholine in the brain. As someone dies there is often a significant autonomic response and this would include an increase in neurotransmitter release in the brain, primarily in core areas responsible for alertness and awareness. I would expect to see improvement in certain types of patients, given this scenario, but not others (where the brain damage is too profound) or cause of death is too sudden. Increased forebrain activity would certainly account for transient improvements in awareness.
One of the striking things I have realised from discussions with medical skeptics on this forum (I don't know if I would characterise you like that) is just how little is really known about consciousness. I mean do people suffer from dementia because large parts of their brain are destroyed (an often used word) by plaques, or because their brain simply lacks enough signalling molecules - neurotransmitters? Surely these two cases should be classified as different diseases?

Likewise, it has been argued here that NDE's happen because small amounts of oxygenated blood are pushed through the brain by cardiac massage. To me,it seems weird to claim that profound, lucid, well remembered NDE's could be laid down at a time when the brain is in such a state.
At best, though, this can only be conjecture because we simply haven't enough data to make firm conclusions either way. I wouldn't put any more credence in my conjecture than in the possibility of consciousness being separate from the body until we can study the phenomenon. And it would be exceedingly hard to study. I don't think many of the dying would want to participate anyway.
Maybe some families would consent to their loved ones, dying of dementia, being filmed as they die. Filming is very cheap nowadays. Since you obviously work in this area, couldn't you interview a number of hospice nurses to get a bit more information?

My general feeling is that because consciousness is so poorly understood, it is possible for skeptics to 'explain' almost anything with some judicious juggling of "maybe" and "it has been suggested". This can give a false impression that everything is understood, and nothing is left unexplained!

Let me put this another way. If, as many here suspect, the brain filters and focuses consciousness (rather than generating it), wouldn't science simply end up with a confused picture if it tried to interpret evidence of this sort as consciousness being created by the brain.

David
 
#9
Phil,

I'd like to explain my views about consciousness a little.

I see it from a computational perspective. I mean, if you have a large collection of cells signalling to one another, it is very reasonable to see that you could create something that operated like a computer. Indeed, this idea seemed to power a belief in the 1980's (and sporadically since) that artificial intelligence(AI) was just around the corner.

This idea had one obvious flaw. As far as anyone knows, a computer doesn't actually experience anything. It may process an image (for example) but it doesn't experience the colours in the image. It can process an audio clip such as a piece of music - possibly picking out notes and chords, but it would not actually respond emotionally to the music. To be clear, it might use some algorithm to identify emotionally stirring passages, but even that would not be an actual experience - just another computation.

This problem was described succinctly by the philosopher David Chalmers. He pointed out that creating a physical structure that could actually experience something (or explaining how the brain does that) was the hard problem of AI - or of understanding the brain. In fact even the other problems of AI seem to have brought the subject to its knees, and yet if the brain operates by passing and combining signals of various sorts, a computational mind really should be possible.

If you take David Chalmers' concept seriously, then we actually know nothing fundamental about how the brain generates consciousness - or indeed if it actually generates it!

David
 
#10
Add to this the improvement folks show with drugs like Aricept and Namenda -- all transient -- and the picture is murkier still. We know how Aricept, Exelon, etc. work -- they increase acetylcholine in the brain. As someone dies there is often a significant autonomic response and this would include an increase in neurotransmitter release in the brain, primarily in core areas responsible for alertness and awareness.
Every time I look at these these types of physical processes, they seem to be more related to the creation, maintenance, and elimination of the brains physical spatial networks, rather than the actual temporal processing part (although both must be intertwined within a feedback loop).

It seems to me that it's these networks particular spatial pattern, which is probably key to the processing of information temporally (learning/memory etc.). So that the energetic activation of spatial sub-patterns within the the brains overall network, allows coherent interference with other identical spatial sub-patterns, over space-time.
 
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#11
As someone dies there is often a significant autonomic response and this would include an increase in neurotransmitter release in the brain, primarily in core areas responsible for alertness and awareness. I would expect to see improvement in certain types of patients, given this scenario, but not others (where the brain damage is too profound) or cause of death is too sudden. Increased forebrain activity would certainly account for transient improvements in awareness.
My feeling is that the most likely explanation is in this territory. Even in badly damaged brains, the sudden variable thrown into the mix via terminal-phase surges in the neurochemical environment by factors associated with arousal seems a very probable candidate.
 
#12
You would need to sift through to find the cases you want, though by the sounds of it, the two categories are somewhat related, and both are interesting. Deathbed visions also include phenomena that seem to include those witnessing the death. Clearly you could argue that these are of a psychological nature, but you could (I suppose) dismiss all NDE's that don't involve observations of the resuscitation in the same way.
Great questions and points, David.

Unfortunately, there may be all sorts of issues at play. One is that most people never reach out or speak as they near death. Another is that if you look at everyone who says something near death most are nonsensical or odd -- like a friend's brother who said "got to get on the train".

Doesn't that possibly more illustrate the very limited scientific understanding of consciousness?
Both, I suppose. It pretty clearly demonstrates some of our ignorance about Alzheimer's disease.


Maybe these phenomena are related, but that doesn't tell us anything about what they signify.
True, but one is certainly afforded more importance since it occurs near death. The fact that dementia patients show some variability during the course of their disease really only tells us that they show variability in the course of the disease. That there is variability near death may only show the same phenomenon. I doubt that, since I think there is more to this than simple variability in dementia expression, especially since the improvements or 'good days' become less and less common as the disease process progresses.

One of the striking things I have realised from discussions with medical skeptics on this forum (I don't know if I would characterise you like that) is just how little is really known about consciousness. I mean do people suffer from dementia because large parts of their brain are destroyed (an often used word) by plaques, or because their brain simply lacks enough signalling molecules - neurotransmitters? Surely these two cases should be classified as different diseases?
We don't know. My gut feeling is that there are multiple mechanisms at work. We do not that there is cell loss and that this plays a primary role in disease expression. We know that the degree of cerebrovascular disease burden is very important at least in Alzheimer's disease. And we know that sleep disruption probably plays a big role in the process, both in development of dementias and in their expression. We know that virtually all neurotransmitters are reduced in Alzheimer's disease, but there is an old theory about lack of forebrain cholinergic neurons (a particular brain area that makes acetylcholine commonly degenerates early) causing the disease, so attempts were made to replace acetylcholine with limited benefit.

In general, it is best to view all of the dementias as caused by cell loss. Neurotransmitter loss is a consequence of this. But it isn't as simple as losing lots of cells, because it depends where they are lost, and we see very different disease expression depending on which groups of neurons degenerate first or fastest. Add to this what is probably even more important -- disruptions of particular networks (the main reason we have different neurotransmitters is to segregate different brain functions within a particular network, so that only targeted cells are stimulated). There are several more wrinkles to discuss but there is a point where this gets boring and this is not my primary area of interest.

This was a slightly long way of saying -- it's much more complicated than simple cell loss, but we don't understand it well yet.

Likewise, it has been argued here that NDE's happen because small amounts of oxygenated blood are pushed through the brain by cardiac massage. To me,it seems weird to claim that profound, lucid, well remembered NDE's could be laid down at a time when the brain is in such a state.
I don't think we understand it well enough to know. We know there are ways to recreate certain aspects of NDEs, but I don't think anyone has an answer beyond speculation.


Maybe some families would consent to their loved ones, dying of dementia, being filmed as they die. Filming is very cheap nowadays. Since you obviously work in this area, couldn't you interview a number of hospice nurses to get a bit more information?

To find out what happens physiologically filming would not be very helpful. We would have to be very invasive if we wanted to really investigate this. I wouldn't sign up my dying mother for that sort of program. Hospice nurses are the right folks to talk to about this phenomenon, though, you are correct.


My general feeling is that because consciousness is so poorly understood, it is possible for skeptics to 'explain' almost anything with some judicious juggling of "maybe" and "it has been suggested". This can give a false impression that everything is understood, and nothing is left unexplained!
Can't answer for others, but my best guess is that most skeptics speak in a kind of short hand where they expect everyone to know that all of their information is to be considered provisional. That is the way they should view. I know as well as you, however, there are folks out there who don't seem to know this simple 'fact'. I left JREF because of some of that attitude.

I try to be honest about what we know and what we don't. Unfortunately we don't know much about the dementias and we know less about the mechanisms underlying consciousness.

Let me put this another way. If, as many here suspect, the brain filters and focuses consciousness (rather than generating it), wouldn't science simply end up with a confused picture if it tried to interpret evidence of this sort as consciousness being created by the brain.

David
I think it is an interesting question -- if the brain focuses and filters consciousness could we really find data showing them to be separable? In what situation does the brain not need to be there for us to 'see' consciousness? Wouldn't the brain filtering consciousness look the same as the brain creating consciousness? I don't know the answers to any of those questions, but they do bother me a bit.
 
#13
Phil,

I'd like to explain my views about consciousness a little.

I see it from a computational perspective. I mean, if you have a large collection of cells signalling to one another, it is very reasonable to see that you could create something that operated like a computer. Indeed, this idea seemed to power a belief in the 1980's (and sporadically since) that artificial intelligence(AI) was just around the corner.

This idea had one obvious flaw. As far as anyone knows, a computer doesn't actually experience anything. It may process an image (for example) but it doesn't experience the colours in the image. It can process an audio clip such as a piece of music - possibly picking out notes and chords, but it would not actually respond emotionally to the music. To be clear, it might use some algorithm to identify emotionally stirring passages, but even that would not be an actual experience - just another computation.

This problem was described succinctly by the philosopher David Chalmers. He pointed out that creating a physical structure that could actually experience something (or explaining how the brain does that) was the hard problem of AI - or of understanding the brain. In fact even the other problems of AI seem to have brought the subject to its knees, and yet if the brain operates by passing and combining signals of various sorts, a computational mind really should be possible.

If you take David Chalmers' concept seriously, then we actually know nothing fundamental about how the brain generates consciousness - or indeed if it actually generates it!

David

I think our first step in the process would be to understand 'experiencing', which means that we need to understand 'feeling' (not just somatosensation) in the broad sense. We don't understand how the brain could produce feelings (I know many think it is impossible). None of the computer programs I am aware of are set up to perform such a task (since we don't understand it to begin with).
 
#14
Every time I look at these these types of physical processes, they seem to be more related to the creation, maintenance, and elimination of the brains physical spatial networks, rather than the actual temporal processing part (although both must be intertwined within a feedback loop).

It seems to me that it's these networks particular spatial pattern, which is probably key to the processing of information temporally (learning/memory etc.). So that the energetic activation of spatial sub-patterns within the the brains overall network, allows coherent interference with other identical spatial sub-patterns, over space-time.

I tend to think that both temporal and spatial processing are critical; feedback loops are also critical to all brain processing.
 
#15
I think our first step in the process would be to understand 'experiencing', which means that we need to understand 'feeling' (not just somatosensation) in the broad sense. We don't understand how the brain could produce feelings (I know many think it is impossible).
Agreed!
None of the computer programs I am aware of are set up to perform such a task (since we don't understand it to begin with).
Well, one way to create such a program in theory (we are probably talking about a gedanken experiment here - but these can be very useful) is to imagine some yet to be developed way to scan the brain in sufficient detail to provide data for a simulator running on a computer. To make this interesting, we have to mop up a few details:

1) Let us say that the simulator would be fed with enough input for the brain simulation to feel reasonably normal. One way to do that would be to use a deep thinker or meditator who was happy in his/her thoughts, or maybe couple the simulation to some games software. The important thing is to persuade you that the lack of traditional input need not matter for a simulation of - say - 30 mins.

2) Since this is supposed to be a gedanken experiment, the simulation can be at any level - even the quantum mechanical level if you wish. The lower the level, the more gedanken the process becomes. Perhaps you would feel happy if the simulation covered the basic chemistry of the neurotransmitter release and binding, any additional molecules that might modulate that process, and the triggering of impulses down the axon. The real point is that following the normal laws of physics and chemistry, there should be no reason to expect this simulation to be impossible in principle.

My first question to you, is do you think the simulation would:

a) Actually be conscious.

b) Appear to be conscious, but actually be a zombie (in the philosophical use of the word)

c) Simply give no sign of consciousness.

If you choose options b or c, it would help if you could explain what we would need to add to the computer to render it conscious. There is some more of this argument waiting in the wings :)

David
 
#16
Great questions and points, David.

Unfortunately, there may be all sorts of issues at play. One is that most people never reach out or speak as they near death. Another is that if you look at everyone who says something near death most are nonsensical or odd -- like a friend's brother who said "got to get on the train".
This is true for NDE's too - I think only about 20% of cardiac arrest patients get any NDE experience.

Interestingly, I read that hospice nurses report that terminally ill patients often make a references to travel when they are at or near to the end of their life. This could imply that the visualise the process of death as going somewher else. Whatever the truth, this remark wasn't just random.
Both, I suppose. It pretty clearly demonstrates some of our ignorance about Alzheimer's disease.




In general, it is best to view all of the dementias as caused by cell loss. Neurotransmitter loss is a consequence of this. But it isn't as simple as losing lots of cells, because it depends where they are lost, and we see very different disease expression depending on which groups of neurons degenerate first or fastest. Add to this what is probably even more important -- disruptions of particular networks (the main reason we have different neurotransmitters is to segregate different brain functions within a particular network, so that only targeted cells are stimulated). There are several more wrinkles to discuss but there is a point where this gets boring and this is not my primary area of interest.

This was a slightly long way of saying -- it's much more complicated than simple cell loss, but we don't understand it well yet.
If we leave out the Lewy body form of dementia, I guess the most relevant question is to what extent these mechanisms are irreversible. It sounds like most are - and it is the temporary reversing of this damage that is most interesting.

It sounds as if you might be in an interesting position to do some research in this area - rather as Dr. Sam Parnia has studied NDE's.
I don't think we understand it well enough to know. We know there are ways to recreate certain aspects of NDEs, but I don't think anyone has an answer beyond speculation.
In view of your comments about JREF, I guess perhaps you take my point though. If the conventional 'understanding' is vague enough, almost anything can be explained!
Can't answer for others, but my best guess is that most skeptics speak in a kind of short hand where they expect everyone to know that all of their information is to be considered provisional. That is the way they should view. I know as well as you, however, there are folks out there who don't seem to know this simple 'fact'. I left JREF because of some of that attitude.

I try to be honest about what we know and what we don't. Unfortunately we don't know much about the dementias and we know less about the mechanisms underlying consciousness.
I think it is very encouraging that you left JREF - here we want the truth - we don't want to root for one 'team' like politicians do! I really hope you stay around here.
I think it is an interesting question -- if the brain focuses and filters consciousness could we really find data showing them to be separable? In what situation does the brain not need to be there for us to 'see' consciousness? Wouldn't the brain filtering consciousness look the same as the brain creating consciousness? I don't know the answers to any of those questions, but they do bother me a bit.
There are several interesting pointers to the idea that the brain filters consciousness rather than creating it.

1) Some autistic savants really seem to know things they have never learned. It is always going to be difficult to prove they could not have learned the information somewhere, but autistic savants can make your hair stand on end.

2) An experiment was done looking for the part of the brain that was activated by psyloscibin. In fact all areas of the brain seemed to have lower activity (as measured by fMRI), even though the subjects were obviously having profound experiences!

David
 
#17
Another is that if you look at everyone who says something near death most are nonsensical or odd -- like a friend's brother who said "got to get on the train".
That doesn't seem odd at all. It conforms exactly with Peter Fenwick's observation that as a person nears death, they begin to speak in the (metaphorical) language of "taking a journey". I don't have a specific reference for that now as there are numerous videos and written articles on or by Fenwick.
 
#18
Agreed!

Well, one way to create such a program in theory (we are probably talking about a gedanken experiment here - but these can be very useful) is to imagine some yet to be developed way to scan the brain in sufficient detail to provide data for a simulator running on a computer. To make this interesting, we have to mop up a few details:

1) Let us say that the simulator would be fed with enough input for the brain simulation to feel reasonably normal. One way to do that would be to use a deep thinker or meditator who was happy in his/her thoughts, or maybe couple the simulation to some games software. The important thing is to persuade you that the lack of traditional input need not matter for a simulation of - say - 30 mins.

2) Since this is supposed to be a gedanken experiment, the simulation can be at any level - even the quantum mechanical level if you wish. The lower the level, the more gedanken the process becomes. Perhaps you would feel happy if the simulation covered the basic chemistry of the neurotransmitter release and binding, any additional molecules that might modulate that process, and the triggering of impulses down the axon. The real point is that following the normal laws of physics and chemistry, there should be no reason to expect this simulation to be impossible in principle.

My first question to you, is do you think the simulation would:

a) Actually be conscious.

b) Appear to be conscious, but actually be a zombie (in the philosophical use of the word)

c) Simply give no sign of consciousness.

If you choose options b or c, it would help if you could explain what we would need to add to the computer to render it conscious. There is some more of this argument waiting in the wings :)

David

I think most likely a, though I am not sure how to do this with a computer program. Chinese room arguments aside, I think it is theoretically possible to do it with programming; we might get closer using silicon to 'stand in' for neurons.

As for b, I don't think p-zombies are possible. It seems to me that there is often something left out of the analysis.

C is always possible.
 
#19
This is true for NDE's too - I think only about 20% of cardiac arrest patients get any NDE experience.

Interestingly, I read that hospice nurses report that terminally ill patients often make a references to travel when they are at or near to the end of their life. This could imply that the visualise the process of death as going somewher else. Whatever the truth, this remark wasn't just random.
Hard to say. Many folks say very strange things that have nothing to do with travel as well.

If we leave out the Lewy body form of dementia, I guess the most relevant question is to what extent these mechanisms are irreversible. It sounds like most are - and it is the temporary reversing of this damage that is most interesting.
Not sure I would use the term 'reversing of this damage' since it is a temporary functional change. There are many different 'subsystems' in the brain that interact with one another and not all are affected by dementing processes equally. Just by providing more neurotransmitters, even within a damaged system, we see transient improvements. That is the basis of using Aricept for Alzheimer's and L-dopa for Parkinson's disease.

[quoteIt sounds as if you might be in an interesting position to do some research in this area - rather as Dr. Sam Parnia has studied NDE's.[/quote]

Sure, find me more than 20 minutes during my day to respond to posts about consciousness and I'll be all set.;)



There are several interesting pointers to the idea that the brain filters consciousness rather than creating it.

1) Some autistic savants really seem to know things they have never learned. It is always going to be difficult to prove they could not have learned the information somewhere, but autistic savants can make your hair stand on end.

2) An experiment was done looking for the part of the brain that was activated by psyloscibin. In fact all areas of the brain seemed to have lower activity (as measured by fMRI), even though the subjects were obviously having profound experiences!

David

I think it would be very hard to determine if an autistic savant had or had not been exposed to a particular bit of learning. Our memories are not that great, especially for small details. Yes, I agree, they can make your hair stand on end.

I have no idea how to interpret fMRI with psyloscibin, but having looked at data directly I take most fMRI studies with a large grain of salt. The reports leave out all sorts of details since there is always a lot of noise to contend with. I don't think there is anything terribly surprising about lower general activity being associated with having a profound experience.
 
#20
That doesn't seem odd at all. It conforms exactly with Peter Fenwick's observation that as a person nears death, they begin to speak in the (metaphorical) language of "taking a journey". I don't have a specific reference for that now as there are numerous videos and written articles on or by Fenwick.
As I replied to David, possibly. It was, however, only one quickie example. People say all sorts of things in a delirium when close to death or not.
 
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