Is Consciousness Produced by the Brain?

Interesting talk given by Dr. Bruce Greyson, who took over from Dr. Ian Stevenson at UVA. His research is in near death experiences. This might be familiar material to some from things like the karma and rebirth course. However, I think he provides a nice summary of all of the types of research they are doing around consciousness and he looks at it from the perspective of materialism more so than rebirth specifically.

One interesting thing he mentions at the end in the Q&A session is that he feels uncertain about rebirth because of some cases they have studied. They have found some people who seem to be “reborn” in more than one person and people who are reborn/reconceived before their death. I am interested to know what people make of these types of findings? How late can a new consciousness take hold in the development of a child?


I recommend The Near-Death Experience: A Reader, edited by Lee W. Bailey & Jenny Yates, for a comprehensive & neutral review of the field.

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Here’s something else:

Near‐death experience: arising from the borderlands of consciousness in crisis, by Kevin R. Nelson, in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2014, Vol.13301(1), pp.111-119:

Description: Brain activity explains the essential features of near‐death experience, including the perceptions of envelopment by light, out‐of‐body, and meeting deceased loved ones or spiritual beings.

To achieve their fullest expression, such near‐death experiences require a confluence of events and draw upon more than a single physiological or biochemical system, or one anatomical structure. During impaired cerebral blood flow from syncope or cardiac arrest that commonly precedes near‐death, the boundary between consciousness and unconsciousness is often indistinct and a person may enter a borderland and be far more aware than is appreciated by others.

Consciousness can also come and go if blood flow rises and falls across a crucial threshold. During crisis the brain’s prime biologic purpose to keep itself alive lies at the heart of many spiritual experiences and inextricably binds them to the primal brain. Brain ischemia can disrupt the physiological balance between conscious states by leading the brainstem to blend rapid eye movement (REM) and waking into another borderland of consciousness during near‐death.

Evidence converges from many points to support this notion, including the observation that the majority of people with a near‐death experience possess brains predisposed to fusing REM and waking consciousness into an unfamiliar reality, and are as likely to have out‐of‐body experience while blending REM and waking consciousness as they are to have out‐of‐body experience during near‐death.


How about The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation?

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Much better than the one I recommended earlier, actually.

Then maybe I can buy this one because I couldn’t find the one you recommended in local bookstore.