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Resuscitation. 2009 Sep;80(9):1006-10. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2009.05.006. Epub 2009 Jul 1.

Brain activity in near-death experiencers during a meditative state.

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Unité de Neuroimagerie Fonctionnelle, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Canada.



To measure brain activity in near-death experiencers during a meditative state.


In two separate experiments, brain activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) during a Meditation condition and a Control condition. In the Meditation condition, participants were asked to mentally visualize and emotionally connect with the "being of light" allegedly encountered during their "near-death experience". In the Control condition, participants were instructed to mentally visualize the light emitted by a lamp.


In the fMRI experiment, significant loci of activation were found during the Meditation condition (compared to the Control condition) in the right brainstem, right lateral orbitofrontal cortex, right medial prefrontal cortex, right superior parietal lobule, left superior occipital gyrus, left anterior temporal pole, left inferior temporal gyrus, left anterior insula, left parahippocampal gyrus and left substantia nigra. In the EEG experiment, electrode sites showed greater theta power in the Meditation condition relative to the Control condition at FP1, F7, F3, T5, P3, O1, FP2, F4, F8, P4, Fz, Cz and Pz. In addition, higher alpha power was detected at FP1, F7, T3 and FP2, whereas higher gamma power was found at FP2, F7, T4 and T5.


The results indicate that the meditative state was associated with marked hemodynamic and neuroelectric changes in brain regions known to be involved either in positive emotions, visual mental imagery, attention or spiritual experiences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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