Near-Death Experiences and the Temporal Lobe

Willoughby B. Britton, Richard R Bootzin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many studies in humans suggest that altered temporal lobe functioning, especially functioning in the right temporal lobe, is involved in mystical and religious experiences. We investigated temporal lobe functioning in individuals who reported having transcendental "near-death experiences" during life-threatening events. These individuals were found to have more temporal lobe epileptiform electroencephalographic activity than control subjects and also reported significantly more temporal lobe epileptic symptoms. Contrary to predictions, epileptiform activity was nearly completely lateralized to the left hemisphere. The near-death experience was not associated with dysfunctional stress reactions such as dissociation, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse, but rather was associated with positive coping styles. Additional analyses revealed that near-death experiences had altered sleep patterns, specifically, a shorter duration of sleep and delayed REM sleep relative to the control group. These results suggest that altered temporal lobe functioning may be involved in the near-death experience and that individuals who have had such experiences are physiologically distinct from the general population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-258
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2004

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Temporal Lobe
Sleep
Dissociative Disorders
REM Sleep
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
Substance-Related Disorders
Control Groups
Population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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Near-Death Experiences and the Temporal Lobe. / Britton, Willoughby B.; Bootzin, Richard R.

In: Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, Vol. 15, No. 4, 04.2004, p. 254-258.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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