August 13th, 2013
12:49 PM ET

Science of Near-Death Experience

When people say they’ve had a “near-death experience,” they may not have imagined it.

There's now new science to support those who report having the phenomenon.

Based on a study testing nine lab rats, University of Michigan researchers say an electrical surge in the brain after cardiac arrest could explain the "visions" described by people who've survived a brush with death.

“You would think the brain would actually have no activity when it’s not receiving oxygen or blood supply,” says Dr. Tara Narula, a New York-based cardiologist.

“But they found the opposite, that there was a surge of activity in the brain and it wasn't just random, it was in a synchronized way.”

However, Dr. Narula admits it’s a leap to transfer this understanding from the rat to a human without more studies.

“There have been case reports in humans of similar findings on these electrical studies of the brain, but we really do need more research on humans before we can really say that what we saw in the rats is exactly what's happening to the human brain.”

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