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August 1987

Explaining the Phenomena of Near-Death Experiences

Author Affiliations

USN LT Mary E. Watson, MC, USN Department of Pediatrics US Naval Hospital Portsmouth, VA 23708-5000

Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(8):828. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460080014002

Sir.—Morse et al1 reported the psychic phenomena of 11 children who had near-death experiences (NDE) following cardiac arrest (seven patients), near drowning (two patients), hyperosmolar coma (one patient), and trauma (one patient). In their fascinating article, they described "out-ofbody" perceptions and visual field constrictions as prominent features of the childhood "core NDE." Based on cortical stimulation studies and a clinical report of an adult with temporal lobe seizures, the authors speculated that neuronal connections located in the temporal lobe code for out-of-body experiences. We would like to provide further clinical evidence for the cortical localization of the NDE processes by describing a 16-year-old girl with right posterotemporal lobe seizures that are characterized by the patient's reported psychic experience of stepping out of her body and looking back at herself for several seconds.

Morse et al further speculated that hypercapnia and hypoxia may trigger NDE-like experiences through direct activation

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