Skeptics have long proposed that NDEs are dream-like memories
of events that never happened or are altered memories
of real events which are partly or fully imagined
. A recently published study
from the University of Liège in Belgium
compared the memories of NDEs
with memories of others who were in coma without an NDE. They found that memories of NDEs are significantly different from coma patients without an NDE
. In particular they have significantly more characteristics
, like visual details, memory clarity, self-referential information (being involved in the event) and emotional content.
The researchers propose that NDEs can't be considered as imagined events
. which have significantly fewer characteristics. NDE events are really perceived
but since the events did not occur in reality and likely result from physiological conditions (e.g., neurological dysfunction), the events are actually hallucinatory
(see also ULg video
). This conclusion is based on assumptions that are inconsistent with other evidence from NDEs. Other interpretations are possible
Seven researchers from the University of Liège
, led by Dr. Steven Laureys, published a report
in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLoS ONE
on the characteristics of memories from near-death experiences compared with the memories from others who were in coma but did not report an NDE
. The study also compared NDE memories with memories of real events and imagined events
(e.g., past dreams or fantasies).
Skeptics, such as Susan Blackmore
and Chris French
, have long proposed that NDEs are dream-like memories
of events that never happened or are altered memories of real events which are partly or fully imagined
The researchers included 21 patients who suffered from an acute brain insult and coma. The patients were divided into three groups: those reporting an NDE (≥ 7 on the Greyson scale, N=8), those reporting memories during coma but without an NDE (< 7 on the Greyson scale, N=6) and those reporting no memories of their coma (N=7). These three groups were all similar in etiology of the brain insult (traumatic, anoxic, hemorrhagic, metabolic and encephalopathic etiologies), as well as age and time since insult. The 21 coma patients were also compared with 18 healthy control subjects.
The researchers measured the memory characteristics of patients using the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire (MCQ), comparing the target memories (NDE or coma memories) versus memories of real events and imagined events (e.g., past dreams or fantasies). The memory characteristics included sensory details (visual, auditory, etc.), memory clarity (e.g., mentally reliving the events when remembering), self-referential information (memories of being involved in the event) and emotionality (e.g., feeling the emotions of the event when remembering).
The researchers found that memories of NDEs have significantly more characteristics than both memories of real events and imagined events.