Consciousness after death

Consciousness after death is a common theme in society and culture in the context of life after death. Scientific research has established that the mind and consciousness are closely connected with the physiological functioning of the brain, the cessation of which defines brain death. However, many believe in some form of life after death, which is a feature of many religions.

Jacek Malczewski, Śmierć
Śmierć ("Death"), a 1902 painting by Jacek Malczewski

Neuroscience

Neuroscience is a large interdisciplinary field founded on the premise that all of behavior and all of the cognitive processes that constitute the mind have their origin in the structure and function of the nervous system, especially in the brain. According to this view, the mind can be regarded as a set of operations carried out by the brain.[1][2][3][4][5]

There are multiple lines of evidence that support this view. They are here briefly summarized along with some examples.

  • Neuroanatomical correlates: In the field of neuroimaging, neuroscientists can use various functional neuroimaging methods to measure an aspect of brain function that correlates with a particular mental state or process.
  • Experimental manipulations: Neuroimaging correlational studies cannot determine whether neural activity plays a causal role in the occurrence of mental processes (correlation does not imply causation) and they cannot determine if the neural activity is either necessary or sufficient for such processes to occur. Identification of causation and necessary and sufficient conditions requires explicit experimental manipulation of that activity. If manipulation of brain activity changes consciousness, then a causal role for that brain activity can be inferred.[6][7] Two of the most common types of manipulation experiments are loss-of-function and gain-of-function experiments. In a loss-of-function (also called "necessity") experiment, a part of the nervous system is diminished or removed in an attempt to determine if it is necessary for a certain process to occur, and in a gain-of-function (also called "sufficiency") experiment, an aspect of the nervous system is increased relative to normal.[8] Manipulations of brain activity can be performed in several ways:
Pharmacological manipulation using various drugs which alter neural activity by interfering with neurotransmission, resulting in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior. Psychoactive drugs are divided into different groups according to their pharmacological effects; euphoriants which tend to induce feelings of euphoria, stimulants that induce temporary improvements in either mental or physical functions, depressants that depress or reduce arousal or stimulation and hallucinogens which can cause hallucinations, perception anomalies, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness.
Electrical and magnetical stimulations using various electrical methods and techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation. In a comprehensive review of electrical brain stimulation (EBS) results obtained from the last 100 years neuroscientist Aslihan Selimbeyoglu and neurologist Josef Parvizi compiled a list of many different subjective experiential phenomena and behavioral changes that can be caused by electrical stimulation of the cerebral cortex or subcortical nuclei in awake and conscious human subjects.[9]
Optogenetic manipulation where light is used to control neurons which have been genetically sensitised to light.

Death

Death is the cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. Death was once defined as the cessation of heartbeat (cardiac arrest) and of breathing, but the development of CPR and prompt defibrillation have rendered that definition inadequate because breathing and heartbeat can sometimes be restarted. Events that were causally linked to death in the past no longer kill in all circumstances; without a functioning heart or lungs, life can sometimes be sustained with a combination of life support devices, organ transplants and artificial pacemakers.

Today, where a definition of the moment of death is required, doctors and coroners usually turn to "brain death" or "biological death" to define a person as being dead; brain death being defined as the complete and irreversible loss of brain function (including involuntary activity necessary to sustain life).[15][16][17][18]

Near-death experience (NDE)

A near-death experience (NDE) is a personal experience associated with impending death, encompassing multiple possible sensations. Research from neuroscience considers the NDE to be a hallucinatory state caused by various neurological factors such as cerebral anoxia, hypercarbia, abnormal activity in the temporal lobes and brain damage.[19]

See also

References

  1. ^ Kandel, ER; Schwartz JH; Jessell TM; Siegelbaum SA; Hudspeth AJ. "Principles of Neural Science, Fifth Edition" (2012).
  2. ^ Squire, L. et al. "Fundamental Neuroscience, 4th edition" (2012).
  3. ^ O. Carter Snead. "Neuroimaging and the "Complexity" of Capital Punishment" (2007).
  4. ^ Eric R. Kandel, M.D. "A New Intellectual Framework for Psychiatry" (1998).
  5. ^ "Neuroscience Core Concepts: The Essential Principles of Neuroscience". BrainFacts.org: Explore the Brain and Mind.
  6. ^ Farah, Martha J.; Murphy, Nancey (February 2009). "Neuroscience and the Soul". Science. 323 (5918): 1168. doi:10.1126/science.323.5918.1168a. PMID 19251609. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  7. ^ Max Velmans, Susan Schneider. "The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness" (2008). p. 560.
  8. ^ Matt Carter, Jennifer C. Shieh. "Guide to Research Techniques in Neuroscience" (2009).
  9. ^ Aslihan Selimbeyoglu, Josef Parvizi. "Electrical stimulation of the human brain: perceptual and behavioral phenomena reported in the old and new literature" (2010). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
  10. ^ "Severe TBI Symptoms"
  11. ^ "Symptoms of Brain Injury"
  12. ^ "Cognitive Development and Aging: A Life Span Perspective"
  13. ^ "Adolescent Brains Are A Work In Progress"
  14. ^ "Blossoming brains"
  15. ^ "Brain death". Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  16. ^ Young, G Bryan. "Diagnosis of brain death". UpToDate. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  17. ^ Goila, A.; Pawar, M. (2009). "The diagnosis of brain death". Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine. 13 (1): 7–11. doi:10.4103/0972-5229.53108. PMC 2772257. PMID 19881172.
  18. ^ Machado, C. (2010). "Diagnosis of brain death". Neurology International. 2 (1): 2. doi:10.4081/ni.2010.e2. PMC 3093212. PMID 21577338.
  19. ^ Olaf Blanke, Sebastian Dieguez. "Leaving Body and Life Behind: Out-of-Body and Near-Death Experience" (2009).

Further reading

Brain death

Brain death is the complete loss of brain function (including involuntary activity necessary to sustain life). It differs from persistent vegetative state, in which the person is alive and some autonomic functions remain. It is also distinct from an ordinary coma, whether induced medically or caused by injury and/or illness, even if it is very deep, as long as some brain and bodily activity and function remains; and it is also not the same as the condition known as locked-in syndrome. A differential diagnosis can medically distinguish these differing conditions.

Brain death is used as an indicator of legal death in many jurisdictions, but it is defined inconsistently and often confused by the lay public. Various parts of the brain may keep functioning when others do not anymore, and the term "brain death" has been used to refer to various combinations. For example, although one major medical dictionary considers "brain death" to be synonymous with "cerebral death" (death of the cerebrum), the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) system defines brain death as including the brainstem. The distinctions are medically significant because, for example, in someone with a dead cerebrum but a living brainstem, the heartbeat and ventilation can continue unaided, whereas in whole-brain death (which includes brainstem death), only life support equipment would keep those functions going. Patients classified as brain-dead can have their organs surgically removed for organ donation.

D. Scott Rogo

Douglas Scott Rogo (February 1, 1950 – August 18, 1990) was a writer, journalist and researcher on subjects related to parapsychology. Rogo was murdered in 1990 at the age of 40. His case remains unsolved.

Death

Death is the inevitable, permanent cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include aging, predation, malnutrition, disease, suicide, homicide, starvation, dehydration, and accidents or major trauma resulting in terminal injury. In most cases, bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death.Death – particularly the death of humans – has commonly been considered a sad or unpleasant occasion, due to the affection for the being that has died and the termination of social and familial bonds with the deceased. Other concerns include fear of death, necrophobia, anxiety, sorrow, grief, emotional pain, depression, sympathy, compassion, solitude, or saudade. Many cultures and religions have the idea of an afterlife, and also hold the idea of reward or judgement and punishment for past sin.

Eternal oblivion

In philosophy, eternal oblivion (also referred to as non-existence or nothingness) is the permanent cessation of one's consciousness upon death. This concept is often associated with religious skepticism and atheism.According to contemporary scientific theories of consciousness, the brain is the basis of subjective experience, agency, self-awareness, and awareness of the surrounding natural world. When brain death occurs, all brain function permanently ceases. Many people who believe that death is a permanent cessation of consciousness also believe that consciousness is dependent upon the functioning of the brain. Scientific research has discovered that some areas of the brain, like the reticular activating system or the thalamus, appear to be necessary for consciousness, because damage to these structures or their lack of function causes a loss of consciousness.Through a naturalist analysis of the mind (an approach adopted by many philosophers of mind and neuroscientists), it is regarded as being dependent on the brain, as shown from the various effects of brain damage.

Gary Schwartz

Gary E. Schwartz is a psychologist, author and professor at the University of Arizona and the Director of its Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health. Schwartz researches the veracity of mediums and energy healing.

Guido Cavalcanti

Guido Cavalcanti (between 1250 and 1259 – August 1300) was an Italian poet and troubadour, as well as an intellectual influence on his best friend, Dante Alighieri.

Len G. Broughton

Leonard Gaston Broughton (December 5, 1865 – February 22, 1936) was a fundamentalist Baptist minister, medical doctor, founder of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and of Tabernacle Infirmary, which later became Georgia Baptist Hospital.

Mind

The mind (not to be confused with the brain) is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity's thoughts and consciousness. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.There is a lengthy tradition in philosophy, religion, psychology, and cognitive science about what constitutes a mind and what are its distinguishing properties.

One open question regarding the nature of the mind is the mind–body problem, which investigates the relation of the mind to the physical brain and nervous system. Older viewpoints included dualism and idealism, which considered the mind somehow non-physical. Modern views often center around physicalism and functionalism, which hold that the mind is roughly identical with the brain or reducible to physical phenomena such as neuronal activity, though dualism and idealism continue to have many supporters. Another question concerns which types of beings are capable of having minds (New Scientist 8 September 2018 p10). For example, whether mind is exclusive to humans, possessed also by some or all animals, by all living things, whether it is a strictly definable characteristic at all, or whether mind can also be a property of some types of human-made machines.Whatever its nature, it is generally agreed that mind is that which enables a being to have subjective awareness and intentionality towards their environment, to perceive and respond to stimuli with some kind of agency, and to have consciousness, including thinking and feeling.The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different cultural and religious traditions. Some see mind as a property exclusive to humans whereas others ascribe properties of mind to non-living entities (e.g. panpsychism and animism), to animals and to deities. Some of the earliest recorded speculations linked mind (sometimes described as identical with soul or spirit) to theories concerning both life after death, and cosmological and natural order, for example in the doctrines of Zoroaster, the Buddha, Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient Greek, Indian and, later, Islamic and medieval European philosophers.

Important philosophers of mind include Plato, Patanjali, Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Searle, Dennett, Fodor, Nagel, and Chalmers. Psychologists such as Freud and James, and computer scientists such as Turing and Putnam developed influential theories about the nature of the mind. The possibility of nonbiological minds is explored in the field of artificial intelligence, which works closely in relation with cybernetics and information theory to understand the ways in which information processing by nonbiological machines is comparable or different to mental phenomena in the human mind.The mind is also portrayed as the stream of consciousness where sense impressions and mental phenomena are constantly changing.

Mythology of Teen Wolf

The mythology of the MTV supernatural action drama series Teen Wolf follows a teenager named Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), who is bitten by an Alpha werewolf and must cope with how it affects his life and the lives of those closest to him and Dylan O'Brien as "Stiles" Stilinski, Scott's best friend. Most mythological elements in Teen Wolf relate to supernatural creatures and draws heavily from Greek mythology, Norse mythology, Japanese mythology, Aztec mythology, Native American beliefs and Celtic herbalism. The show has created its own unique mythos centered around shapeshifters and their connections to one-another throughout the world.

Outline of death

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to death:

Death – termination of all biological functions that sustain a living organism.

Pam Reynolds case

Pam Reynolds Lowery (1956 – May 22, 2010), from Atlanta, Georgia, was an American singer-songwriter. In 1991, at the age of 35, she stated that she had a near-death experience (NDE) during a brain operation performed by Robert F. Spetzler at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Her experience is one of the most widely documented in near-death studies because of the circumstances under which it happened. Reynolds was under close medical monitoring during the entire operation. During part of the operation she had no brain-wave activity and no blood flowing in her brain, which rendered her clinically dead. She claimed to have made several observations during the procedure which later medical personnel reported to be accurate.

This near-death experience claim has been considered by some to be evidence of the survival of consciousness after death, and of a life after death. However, others have pointed to prosaic and conventional means as possible explanations. Reynolds died from heart failure, on Saturday May 22, 2010, age 53 at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Paul Beard (spiritualist)

Paul Beard (14 October 1904 – 9 June 2002) was an English author and was the president of the College of Psychic Studies. Beard was based in London, England, for sixteen years.

The organization was devoted to finding in spiritualism evidence of life after death. During his tenure as a member and president Beard wrote an article that was published in Spiritual Frontiers in 1970 on "How to Guard Against Possession." During this research he experimented extensively with using an ouija board.Beard has written a trilogy of books analyzing the evidence for and against the survival of the human soul after death. He made a lifetime study of psychical research. He was also a member of the Society for Psychical Research.

Qui-Gon Jinn

Qui-Gon Jinn is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise, portrayed by Liam Neeson as one of the main protagonists of the 1999 film Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

Seventh-day Adventist Church

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century and it was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church.Much of the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church corresponds to common Protestant Christian teachings, such as the Trinity and the infallibility of Scripture. Distinctive teachings include the unconscious state of the dead and the doctrine of an investigative judgment. The church is known for its emphasis on diet and health, its "holistic" understanding of the person, its promotion of religious liberty, and its conservative principles and lifestyle.The world church is governed by a General Conference, with smaller regions administered by divisions, union conferences, and local conferences. It currently has a worldwide baptized membership of over 20 million people, and 25 million adherents. As of May 2007, it was the twelfth-largest religious body in the world, and the sixth-largest highly international religious body. It is ethnically and culturally diverse, and maintains a missionary presence in over 215 countries and territories. The church operates over 7,500 schools including over 100 post-secondary institutions, numerous hospitals, and publishing houses worldwide, as well as a humanitarian aid organization known as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

Thomas Williams (Christadelphian)

Thomas Williams (1847–1913) was a Welsh Christadelphian who emigrated to America in 1872, and eventually became editor of The Christadelphian Advocate magazine and author of The Great Salvation and The World's Redemption, reserving him a place alongside Christadelphian founders Dr. John Thomas and Robert Roberts. When his appeals to English brethren went unheeded, he became the most prominent of the brethren who avoided these divisive factions, and later became known as Unamended Christadelphians because they never adopted a particular amendment to the Christadelphian statement of faith.

Yoda

Yoda () is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas, first appearing in the 1980 film The Empire Strikes Back. In the original trilogy, he trains Luke Skywalker to fight against the Galactic Empire. In the prequel trilogy, he is amongst the most powerful members of the Jedi Order and a general of clone troopers during the Clone Wars. Before his death in Return of the Jedi at the age of 900, Yoda was the oldest living character in the Star Wars franchise in canon, until the introduction of Maz Kanata in The Force Awakens.

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