10 percent of people have had a near death experience: study

Near-death experiences, in which people claim to experience a series of spiritual and physical symptoms, including the sensation of floating above their bodies, hallucinations, and a distortion of time, are experienced by 10% of the population, say European neurologists.

To arrive at this estimate, Dr. Daniel Kondziella, neurologist and professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and his European colleagues analyzed the experiences told by 1034 people from 35 countries.

These participants were selected through an online platform (to eliminate selection bias) and asked if they had ever had an IME.

If they answered in the affirmative, the researchers asked them to answer a detailed Greyson Near-Death Experience Scale, which covers 16 specific symptoms.

A total of 289 people reported having an IME, and 106 of them reached a threshold of 7 out of 16 on the Greyson scale (which would confirm a true NDE).


  • The terms “death-return experience” (EMR), “near-death experience” (EMA), “border-of-death experience” (FSM), and “near-death experience” (EMI) are also used to describe the phenomenon.
  • The event phases reported by those who have lived this experience are similar, regardless of their country, culture, age, gender, educational level, social status, language and belief or not in the survival of the child. ‘soul.

According to the researchers, this type of experiment is as common in people who are not in imminent danger of death as in those who have experienced life-threatening situations such as heart attacks, car accidents, or near drowning.

The most frequently reported experiences are:

  • Abnormal perception of time (87%)
  • An exceptional speed of thought (65%);
  • Exceptionally lively senses (63%);
  • A feeling of being separated from your body or coming out of it (53%).

Other sensations were also reported by the participants, including a sense of inner peace, an aspiration of the soul, hearing the angels singing, seeing one’s life scroll past oneself, and finding oneself in a tunnel before reaching a bright light.

Rarer: Others also claimed to have felt the presence of another person before falling asleep or a demon sitting on their chest when they were paralyzed and unable to move.

A sometimes traumatic experience

Unlike other studies conducted on the subject, this new study found a much higher rate of people reporting their experience as unpleasant.

Overall, of all those who reported having an IME, 73% said it was unpleasant.

However, among those who scored 7 or higher on the Greyson scale, the percentage was reversed as 53% said they had a pleasant experience, compared to only 14% for an unpleasant experience.

A link with REM sleep

Based on the knowledge gained from previous studies, European neurologists have found an association between EMI and paradoxical sleep (rapid eye movement, REM).

During REM REM sleep, the eyes move quickly, and the brain is as active as when a person is awake. Thus, during this sleep cycle, the dream is more vivid, and most people experience a state of temporary paralysis since their brain sends a signal to the spinal cord preventing them from moving their arms and legs.

Thus, when paradoxical sleep impinges on awakening, some people report visual and auditory hallucinations and other symptoms such as sleep paralysis, where they feel conscious but can not move.

The data collected in this study show that intrusion of paradoxical sleep into the waking state is more common among individuals who scored 7 or higher on the Greyson scale (47%) than those who obtained scores of 6 or less (26%), or those who did not have such experience (14%).

Although this association is not causal, the identification of the physiological mechanisms behind the intrusion of REM sleep into awakening could advance our understanding of near-death experiences.

Dr. Daniel Kondziella

The details of this study were presented at the annual meeting of the European Academy of Neurology which was held this year in Oslo, Norway.

A phenomenon still mysterious

Is human consciousness immortal in nature or is it reducible to the neurological processes of the brain? In other words, have those who claim to have come back to life after being in a luminous tunnel experienced the first phase of a new stage of consciousness, or simply the end of a biological process?

Since the last decades, neurologists have been trying to solve this anomaly from scientific knowledge. In 2006, Swiss scientists claimed that IMEs would come from disturbances of a complex process of coordination, which they now locate in the brain. According to them, body image is disturbed when electrically stimulating the temporoparietal junction of the brain.

At that moment, the brain generates a delocalized image, as projected under the body, in front of him or behind him. In the first two cases, people still recognize their own image. However, in the latter, they feel a different presence, sometimes dark and threatening.

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