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Are Near Death Experiences Real?

Millions of people report heading down a tunnel towards a light when near death. istockphoto hide caption

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At 18 hospitals in Britain and the United States there are pictures hanging in Emergency Rooms. But they're facing up. Only visible from near the ceiling. The reason? To see if out of body, near death experiences actually happen.

From the WSJ:

People who have these near-death experiences often describe leaving their bodies and watching themselves being resuscitated from above, but verifying such accounts is difficult. The images would be visible only to people who had done that.

"We've added these images as objective markers," says Sam Parnia, a critical-care physician and lead investigator of the study, which hopes to include 1,500 resuscitated patients. Dr. Parnia declined to say whether any have accurately described the images so far, but says he hopes to report preliminary results next year.

Some 15 million Americans have had near death experiences.

Dr. Parnia, an assistant professor at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, also wants to see if consciousness is separate from the brain, and what happens to it as the brain shuts down. The simplicity of the study is the best part to me, if they say they're floating above their body, let's see what they can see. Pretty elegant.

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