Abstract Details

An Integral Model of the Near-Death Experience: Neural and Quantum Mechanisms  James Lake (Salinas, CA )   C23

Near-death experiences (NDE) raise important questions about the relationship between brain function and consciousness, the perceptual information that is available to consciousness in moments before death, the role of physical and biological mechanisms associated with altered states of consciousness, and relationships between consciousness, space-time and phenomenal reality. This presentation will review challenges posed by efforts to define the NDE, claims of anomalous experiences associated with NDEs, the problem of verifying the "timing" of NDEs with respect to brain function in the context of recent findings from neuroscience and quantum models of consciousness. I propose an integral model that reconciles conventional neural explanations and postulated non-classical models of consciousness. I argue that the diversity, complexity and quality of imagery retrospectively interpreted as NDEs reflect changes in dynamic neural connectivity caused by psychological and physiological factors associated with trauma. I argue that certain NDE features are probably explainable by neuroscience while other features such as confirmed cases of veridical perception in individuals who have "flat lined" may be consistent with postulated non-local consciousness mediated by quantum-level processes or other poorly described mechanisms (Lake 2017). The talk will conclude with suggestions for animal and human studies aimed at elucidating neurophysiological mechanisms and postulated non-classical mechanisms in NDEs.