Near death experiences (NDEs) have been a topic of speculation for years, but it wasn't until recently that researchers discovered the memories of the experiences are remembered more vividly than real memories.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Liege in Belgium, analyzed three groups of people who had a serious brain injury resulting in a coma. Eight of them said they had a NDE, while six remembered being in a coma but didn't have a NDE, and seven didn't remember the coma at all.
The goal was to determine if NDE memories were stored like imagined or real events.
After analyzing the data, they found that NDEs weren't stored like imagined or real events, but were in their own category, as they were recalled more vividly than the most vivid real memories.
"The physiological origins [of NDEs] could lead them to be really perceived although not lived in the reality," researchers said.
That means, to the person having the NDE, it is a very real experience.
Now researchers are stumped as to why and how a NDE occurs. Most NDEs happen when the person is considered "dead," so the brain should not be capable of creating and storing memories, especially in the vivid manner with which it does.
Some common NDEs reported are leaving the body and looking down at the hospital room, traveling through a tunnel, seeing a light and talking to deceased family members.
Many post their experiences on forums, including the Near Death Experience Research Foundation.
While many think that the NDEs derive from neurons firing in the brain as they struggle to survive, most who experience them believe they come from a spiritual place.
"I became one with all in existence…all was okay, all was love…I was one with the doctor, the nurses, my mom down the hall…I could have raised the doctor's arm if I wanted to," one user of NDERF, Robyn, said.
They plan to investigate NDEs further and hopefully uncover more information about what actually happens during the event.