For the sake of fidelity, ambiguous NDE cases, unsoundly procured accounts, and case studies of just one account have been excluded from this cross-cultural survey. For instance, whether various historical narratives are accounts of experiences by individuals who were dying or expected to die is unclear, or otherwise their status as unedited, first-person accounts rather than legendary inventions or accretions is dubious. Studies in which contemporary non-Western accounts were derived solely from second-hand sources rather than from interviews with NDErs themselves have also been excluded. Finally, I have excluded data which are likely to have been contaminated by knowledge of Western NDE motifs, such as findings based on responses to advertisements in nonnative languages (e.g., Blackmore, "India") or on composite accounts of Western NDEs presented to respondents beforehand (e.g., Kellehear, Heaven, and Gao). It is nevertheless worth noting that none of the excluded non-Western historical narratives (Bailey; Becker, "Centrality"; Becker, "Revisited"; Schorer; Wade), second-hand accounts of non-Western NDEs (Osis and Haraldsson), or single non-Western accounts (Berndt and Berndt; Gómez-Jeria; Kellehear, "Hawaiian"; King) report initial euphoria, transitional passage through a tunnel or darkness, encountering a sun-like light, or anything like the Western life review.
A third interesting theory has a more physiological focus. Few consistent findings on correlations between OBEs or NDEs and physiological factors have been found, but those that have been discovered implicate the temporal lobe in such experiences (see below). Silvia Bünning and Olaf Blanke envision OBEs as "culturally invariant neuropsychological phenomena or deviant self models" resulting from abnormal brain activity centered around the temporo-parietal junction (Bünning and Blanke 332). This unusual neural activity is surmised to produce a dual failure of multisensory integration that leads to an OBE. Conflicting proprioceptive, tactile, and visual information, coupled with a conflict between the vestibular feeling of where the body is and the visual representation of the body's location, yields an OBE:
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This principle is widely assumed because different people would naturally be expected to report similar experiences if they were traveling to the same afterlife environment. Of course, the greater the diversity between different NDE accounts, the less credible the NDE consistency argument for survival, and thus the greater the pressure to portray different NDE accounts as more consistent than they first appear.
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(6) Using open-ended questions, Morse also found a case where a child that was clinically dead reported that while she was 'above her body' looking down, "her mother's nose appeared flattened and distorted 'like a pig monster'" (Morse 67).
Is the Temporal Lobe Implicated in NDEs?
(7) The Fenwicks recount an NDE where the NDEr 'observed' a procedure that never took place during the heart bypass operation she underwent at the time:
Ultimately, even the Fenwicks concede this:
[S]he left her body and watched her heart lying beside her body, bumping away with what looked like ribbons coming from it to hands. In fact, this is not what happens in a heart bypass operation, as the heart is left within the chest and is never taken outside the body (Fenwick and Fenwick 193).
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The Fenwicks try to explain away this major discrepancy by pointing out that ribbons are indeed tied to during an operation of this sort and by attributing the false perception to misidentification. However, it is difficult to see how a person truly out-of-body with vivid perceptual capabilities could confuse arteries (ribboned or not) with a beating heart lying next to her outside of her body. In the remainder of her experience this NDEr reported 'traveling' to a place that looked like an enormous silver 'airplane hangar' with tiny figures off in the distance, miles away.
Groth-Marnat, Gary. "." . No. 19 (1994): 7-11.
(8) Other NDErs have reported seeing friends out-of-body with them who are, in reality, still alive and normally conscious. The Evergreen Study also recorded a clearly hallucinatory near-death experience after a major car accident: