Oct 17 2014

Brain Activity in Vegetative Patients

A vegetative state is a particular kind of coma in which patients appear to be awake but give no signs (by definition) of any awareness. They do not respond to their environment in any way or do anything purposeful. Some patients display a flicker of awareness, and they are categorized as minimally conscious.

Neuroscientists have been using the latest technology to look at brain function in vegetative subjects and comparing that function to healthy controls. In this way they hope to gain insight into the neurological correlates of consciousness – what brain activity is necessary for and responsible for conscious awareness. A new study, published in PLOS Computational Biology, replicates this research with interesting findings.

As with previous studies, the researchers found that the majority of vegetative patients had profound abnormalities of brain function compared to healthy controls. They found:

Here, we apply graph theory to compare key signatures of such networks in high-density electroencephalographic data from 32 patients with chronic disorders of consciousness, against normative data from healthy controls. Based on connectivity within canonical frequency bands, we found that patient networks had reduced local and global efficiency, and fewer hubs in the alpha band.

This means they measured the electrical activity of the brain and found that patients in a vegetative or minimally conscious state had decreased brain activity. A healthy brain has massive local and global networks of neurons exchanging information across the brain. The brains of patients with impaired consciousness had markedly reduced activity and fewer hubs of activity.

This makes sense. Conscious awareness seems to be a distributed function of the brain, and the brain has to have a certain threshold of activity in order to maintain wakefulness and awareness. If that activity is reduced the result is unconsciousness. If that activity is reduced by damage to the brain, the result is long-term or permanent unconsciousness, or coma. The study failed to show a tight correlation between the amount of activity and the relative degree of behavioral function in the subjects, but this could be due to the small sample size and the small differences among subjects.

However, this study (also in line with previous studies) found that in a minority of subjects, four of those studied, the network activity in the brain was similar to healthy controls (although not normal). They had much more robust activity than the other subjects with impaired consciousness.

Further, the authors performed another test that has been published before. They imaged brain activity with fMRI scanning and asked subjects to imagine themselves playing tennis. In conscious patients this results in a pattern of activity reflecting motor planning. The four comatose patients with robust brain activity showed motor planning activity when given the tennis test.

To summarize these results – four subjects who appear to be in a vegetative state by neurological exam, showed fairly robust brain activity on EEG and responded to the tennis test as measured by fMRI activity. The big question is, what is going on in the brains of these four subjects? The authors write:

Overall, our research highlights distinctive network signatures of pathological unconsciousness, which could improve clinical assessment and help identify patients who are aware despite being uncommunicative.

In other words, these four patients, and patients like them identified in other studies, may have some conscious awareness but we simply cannot detect that awareness because of more focal deficits, such as paralysis. This would make them more in line with locked-in patients rather than vegetative patients.

I think, however, we are not yet able to draw that conclusion from the data we have (to be fair, the authors do not draw that conclusion, but they do imply it, and that is the one point the press is focusing on). It is very possible that conscious awareness requires robust local and global brain communication, but also requires some specific activity in the brain. There may be some critical networks without which awareness is impaired. In a subset of patients, overall brain activity may be preserved, but the critical networks are damaged and so awareness is impaired.

Although not part of the current study, previous studies compared patients who were vegetative from diffuse processes such as anoxia (lack of oxygen) and those whose brains were damaged by trauma. The trauma patients may have some parts of the brain that are damaged and others that are undamaged. These trauma patients are the ones who are more likely to have the more robust brain activity despite being vegetative or minimally conscious, whereas the diffuse anoxia patients rarely if ever fall into this category. The question remains – are the focal areas of damage inhibiting awareness or just inhibiting motor and sensory function?

At this point the bottom line is that we just don’t know. Both of these possibilities may also be true for different patients. Every permutation likely exists, and researchers are simply sorting out which permutations are possible.

I am not yet convinced that it is possible patients who appear to be vegetative are actually aware and therefore really locked in. These would have to be very special cases, with just the right assortment of deficits to keep them from displaying any signs of their consciousness. I think it is more likely that the subset of patients with relatively preserved brain activity while being in a coma simply have focal damage that is impairing circuits critical to conscious awareness.

We will see. This is a fascinating area of research, and we are making steady progress. Researchers are making better and better use of existing technology, and that technology itself is progressing.

44 responses so far

44 Responses to “Brain Activity in Vegetative Patients”

  1. joshguthon 17 Oct 2014 at 8:55 am

    it strikes me that the alpha map of the control looks a lot like the delta map of vegetative state.

  2. tmac57on 17 Oct 2014 at 10:07 am

    Are there any well understood signs of mental distress that could be detected by these kinds of tests?
    And if so has anyone ever attempted to look for them? My guess is that that would be one of the first and most obvious questions.

  3. steve12on 17 Oct 2014 at 11:31 am

    “I think it is more likely that the subset of patients with relatively preserved brain activity while being in a coma simply have focal damage that is impairing circuits critical to conscious awareness.”

    I’m going to be very lazy and ask: is there any commonality in the focal damage of the folks who showed activity?

    HAve to push this reading to my weekend pile…

  4. Billzbubon 17 Oct 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Can they ask patients who are capable of showing results in the tennis test questions, and have them imagine playing tennis for YES and imagine something that is not an activity (like shapes or music) for NO to communicate with them? It seems like a no-brainer to me.

  5. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 12:52 pm

    In previous iterations of that test it was tennis for ‘yes’ and home for ‘no’, or perhaps the other way round. Point is discrete brain regions were more active for each one.

  6. BillyJoe7on 18 Oct 2014 at 6:24 am

    “conscious awareness”

    Why do we say conscious awareness?
    Can we be unconsciously aware?
    If not, why do we need the qualifier?

  7. cremnomaniacon 18 Oct 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Fascinating topic. I suppose I could do my own research, but I’m wondering how the brain activity of patients in vegetative states compares to NREM stage 3 sleep (“many environmental stimuli no longer produce any reactions” wikipedia).

    In regard to BillyJoe7’s comment, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’d suggest that the difference between conscious and unconscious awareness is similar to that encounter during sleep. A sleeping individual is sensitive and able to respond to the environment to varying degrees. While not fully conscious , or even mildly conscious, we are to some degree “aware”. Consciousness then is the degree to which we are able to recognize stimuli (internal and external) that our senses (awareness) provides.
    Waiting for the correction….

  8. grabulaon 20 Oct 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I’m curious where all of our resident dualists are. They never seem to bother with these threads involving the hard science of brain function but flock to the softer entries…it’s a curiosity.

  9. etatroon 23 Oct 2014 at 1:22 am

    BillyJ. The brain is aware of many things that do not reach the point of consciousness. It is aware of where, in space, all the limbs & digits are, breathing rate, oxygen, CO2 levels, glucose levels, temperature, salinity, emotional state, threats, where gravity is pointing, etc. think of yourself playing a sport that you’re experienced & good at; you’re not consciously aware of all the minutiae of every tiny motion or reaction, but the brain is aware and signaling to position, time, and move in very precise ways. I suspect the same happens with reading, the brain is aware of the shapes of the individual letters, but really only conscious of the words, typically. One theory of consciousness is that the brain is ‘attending to’ it’s awareness of things. Attention to something is different than awareness of it. So conscious awareness is distinct from just awareness. Attention is a finite resource to the brain so we can only be conscious of a finite number of things at any one time and I think we strengthen or weaken our attention to particular things with usage, practice, or effort.

  10. BillyJoe7on 23 Oct 2014 at 7:11 am

    etatro,

    Thanks for the reply.
    But, I can’t seem to pull myself away from the idea that the brain must be conscious to be aware. Of course, there are all degrees of awareness and all degrees of consciousness, but it seems to me, the degree of awareness decreases with the degree of consciousnes. However, if you use scare quotes, I can agree that a brain can be “aware” while being unconscious. Meaning metaphorically aware. But, metaphorically, even p-Zombies are “aware”.

  11. mumadaddon 23 Oct 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Grabula,

    I’m curious where all of our resident dualists are. They never seem to bother with these threads involving the hard science of brain function but flock to the softer entries…it’s a curiosity.

    Me too. I was going to post a link to the BBC article about this study on the AWARE thread to back up some comments I made about people appearing unconscious during recovery but really being minimally conscious, as I thought it was relevant to that discussion. But never a peep on this kind of thread.

    Actually – the NDE or dualism related stuff probably generates some buzz in their blogosphere. I doubt they are regular readers of this or other sciency blogs when it doesn’t pertain to their own set of interests.

  12. leo100on 24 Oct 2014 at 10:07 pm

    I am here and I would say that patients are truly locked into their awareness (soul), when in a vegetative state. As far as the last few comments go on the Aware thread go about how the case of Mr. A just shows that definition of death may have to be changed. I would agree with that however it also suggests that consciousness may in fact be independent from the brain.

  13. grabulaon 25 Oct 2014 at 8:54 pm

    @leo

    “I am here and I would say that patients are truly locked into their awareness (soul), when in a vegetative state.”

    You would say…based on what evidence?

    “I would agree with that however it also suggests that consciousness may in fact be independent from the brain.”

    There’s not even a hint of a suggestion of it Leo. The guy hit on a few low hanging fruit, a long time after his event occurred which means any of a number of more likely things occurred. You can’t continue to cling to one very bad example for your entire system of beliefs.

  14. leo100on 25 Oct 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Grabula,

    Well the evidence is suggestive of it but like Steven Novella said on his post we will have to see. Even though its clear he endorses naturalism the possibility that conscious awareness may be truly locked in a vegetative is interesting.

    Yes there is a remote chance that this case is confabulation, because most patients are interviewed more than once. Plus other cases such as Pam Reyold’s nde and other’s clearly show that confabulation was probably not at play.

  15. grabulaon 25 Oct 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Leo,

    How would you as a dualist even begin to explain concepts such as locked in and vegetative? Why don’t these souls experience the walk abouts you guys like to claim are evidence for life after death? You’d think there would have to be some claim or evidence that people who’s bodies have betrayed them manage to escape via the soul, where are those claims and the pertinent evidence?

    The dualist worldview is horribly inconsistent and so far appears to rely completely on shoddy evidence and horrible experiments.

  16. leo100on 25 Oct 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Anyways, if it is pure confabulation it’s amazing still that this man’s experience was timed during no brain activity for 3 minutes.

  17. leo100on 25 Oct 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Plus one of the poster’s from god’s know what forum said this which makes perfect sense.

    “The case of Mr A is solid otherwise it would not have got through peer review. The man was in VF a deadly heart rhythm were consciousness is not possible after just a few seconds and the brain stem is down so all reflex’s are absent in the brain are absent. After 20 seconds the global electrical activity of the brain is flat and yet the man retained consciousness for more than 3 minutes, verified by his hearing of the automatic defibrillators audible “shock the patient” TWICE with a gap for CPR in between. and seeing the bald headed man which he couldn’t have seen from his position on the bed behind the curtain.”

    http://god-knows-what.com/2014/10/08/new-evidence-for-life-after-death/

  18. grabulaon 25 Oct 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Leo

    You continue to focus on all the wrong points.

    First, it doesn’t matter when arguing for NDE’s and life after death, that the guy may have experienced consciousness for 3 minutes after he was declared dead. We explained this in excruciating detail on the AWARE thread, you just continue to ignore it. It could have gone on for 5 minutes and all that is evidence for is that something physiologically happened that wasn’t recognized or currently is unexplained. It’s not amazing so much as it just supports a potential reworking of our understanding of brain death. Like all things biological ‘death’ occurs on a gradient and not on a hard line anyway short of violent and traumatic occurrences. What about this alone do you not understand?

    Second, it’s entirely possible, in fact entirely likely (occam’s razor) that he did confabulate things, whether consciously or not. Way too much time passed for his memory to not be affected around the events, not to mention his hits weren’t nearly as specific to be damning evidence for NDE. You could probably get 10 random people to guess at what happens in an emergency room for example and get some pretty good ‘accuracy’.

    Third, it’s one single data point amongst hundreds, and dozens of bad studies. ONE! It comes nowhere near scientific or reasonable to assume this is evidence for anything, even enough to be taken seriously enough to spur further research in the minds of anyone but true believers.

  19. leo100on 26 Oct 2014 at 11:08 am

    Grabula ‘

    What your forgetting to understand is the assumption of materialist’s is that brain activity produces consciousness. if you can have consciousness without brain activity for 3 minutes, it’s significant in that it suggest’s consciousness may in fact be separate from brain activity. It’s far from one data point there are hundreds and hundreds of cases where patients saw and heard things while they were clinically dead, cardiac arrest as well. I think Tim on the forum I posted the link too did a good job rebutting the confabulation argument.

  20. Nomen Nescioon 26 Oct 2014 at 11:56 am

    “It’s far from one data point there are hundreds and hundreds of cases where patients saw and heard things while they were clinically dead“

    If you are talking about veridical perceptions than the number is a little bit smaller than that:

    “Among 107 published cases of such perceptions during NDEs, approximately 91% were completely accurate.“

    from Holden, J.M. (2009) Veridical perception in near-death experiences. In The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences.

  21. mumadaddon 26 Oct 2014 at 3:37 pm

    leo,

    Anyways, if it is pure confabulation it’s amazing still that this man’s experience was timed during no brain activity for 3 minutes.

    You keep referring to this – is it from the AWARE study? Can you please quote the specifics. You may have done so already but do me a favour and save me having to dig through the comments on that thread.

    How was his experience timed?

    Grabula ‘

    What your forgetting to understand is the assumption of materialist’s is that brain activity produces consciousness.

    I doubt that, leo.

    if you can have consciousness without brain activity for 3 minutes, it’s significant in that it suggest’s consciousness may in fact be separate from brain activity.

    If you can demonstrate consciousness without brain activity, it’s proof that consciousness is separate from brain activity; they’re the same thing, leo. Your problem is that you can’t demonstrate this. All the ‘evidence’ you’re citing can be more easily accounted for by well established neurological and psychological effects, or just plain chance. The legitimate test, that would have confirmed disembodied consciousness, came back negative.

    What we are saying is that consciousness = brain activity. So, 3 minutes after whatever marker you’re measuring from, if there is still actual consciousness, then there is still some brain activity generating that consciousness.

    But we don’t need to start rethinking our understanding brain activity during anoxia until we see cases in which consciousness can be reliably demonstrated to have been maintained when we’d have expected no brain activity.

  22. mumadaddon 26 Oct 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Aargh, crap. Sorry.

    leo,

    Anyways, if it is pure confabulation it’s amazing still that this man’s experience was timed during no brain activity for 3 minutes.

    You keep referring to this – is it from the AWARE study? Can you please quote the specifics. You may have done so already but do me a favour and save me having to dig through the comments on that thread.

    How was his experience timed?

    Grabula ‘

    What your forgetting to understand is the assumption of materialist’s is that brain activity produces consciousness.

    I doubt that, leo.

    if you can have consciousness without brain activity for 3 minutes, it’s significant in that it suggest’s consciousness may in fact be separate from brain activity.

    If you can demonstrate consciousness without brain activity, it’s proof that consciousness is separate from brain activity; they’re the same thing, leo. Your problem is that you can’t demonstrate this. All the ‘evidence’ you’re citing can be more easily accounted for by well established neurological and psychological effects, or just plain chance. The legitimate test, that would have confirmed disembodied consciousness, came back negative.

    What we are saying is that consciousness = brain activity. So, 3 minutes after whatever marker you’re measuring from, if there is still actual consciousness, then there is still some brain activity generating that consciousness.

    But we don’t need to start rethinking our understanding brain activity during anoxia until we see cases in which consciousness can be reliably demonstrated to have been maintained when we’d have expected no brain activity.

  23. mumadaddon 26 Oct 2014 at 3:44 pm

    ….but I repeat myself, as do you.

  24. leo100on 26 Oct 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Mumadadd,

    It was timed using a physical marker called a AEF it beeped for 3 minute intervals.

    What we are saying is that consciousness = brain activity. So, 3 minutes after whatever marker you’re measuring from, if there is still actual consciousness, then there is still some brain activity generating that consciousness.

    That is a big assumption, even if there is brain activity is probably minimal brain activity which wouldn’t be actual consciousness as materialist’s require a certain amount of brain activity.

  25. grabulaon 26 Oct 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Leo keeps referring to it because it’s his holy grail. He believes the man could not have ‘guessed’ that there was a beep, or that he could have been queued into the information he provided. The simple fact is Leo and his dualist friends do not have one solid iota of evidence to support their claims, the studies done in the interest of supporting their beliefs time and time again fall flat on their faces and they’re reduced to special pleading in order to continue to perpetuate the empty space in which their belief exists. As if not knowing is enough to make it worth pursuing.

    The problem with Leo specifically (I don’t have much experience dealing with dualists so can’t say it’s a dualist issue) is that Leo conflates tiny perceived hits and doesn’t want to bother understanding the complicated issue surrounding these. It’s one case, and it’s anecdotal. They consider it a hit but it’s far from scientific and hasn’t been replicated. Combine this along with an absolute failure across the board for any of these NDE studies to provide anything of substance, followed by signature special pleading – Parnia and Leo are still trying to turn AWARE into a win – and you get nothing.

  26. grabulaon 26 Oct 2014 at 8:33 pm

    It’s amazing to me how quickly Leo’s pig headedness and dogmatic views can move a conversation into uninteresting territory. He’s been talking about the same 3 minutes for a week.

  27. mumadaddon 27 Oct 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Leo,

    “That is a big assumption, even if there is brain activity is probably minimal brain activity which wouldn’t be actual consciousness as materialist’s require a certain amount of brain activity.”

    It’s an assumption based on multiple converging lines of evidence. Every way this has been tested it’s held up. Every attempt to knock this assumption down has failed. There has been no demonstrated anomalous consciousness absent brain activity. None.

    Most of the anecdotes you’re referring to can be explained by retroactive memory contamination and confabulation, with no need to look at finer resolution for brain activity to explain the experiences.

    However, if you can find a case where the experience can be verified to have occurred during flatline, we’d have to acknowledge that there must in fact have been some brain activity.

    Remember the link I posted to the rat study? That found a surge of brain activity for 30 after arrest. They were able to detect this activity because the electrodes we’re in direct contact with the rats’ brains; it would otherwise have gone undetected.

  28. mumadaddon 27 Oct 2014 at 2:34 pm

    “Most of the anecdotes you’re referring to can be explained by retroactive memory contamination and confabulation, ”

    When I say most, I mean probably all. I hedged that statement slightly just to acknowledge that I don’t know for a fact that there are no cases of actual consciousness during the process of brain death.

  29. AmateurSkepticon 27 Oct 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Leo, if the machine beeped at “3 minute intervals” and the patient had no brain activity for 3 minutes, he should have heard one beep, not two. In order for it to be even theoretically possible for the patient to have heard two beeps he would have had to have had no brain activity for more than three minutes.

    If the patient had had no brain activity for four minutes (instead of only three), the study would have reported this — unless of course, their published reports are completely unreliable. However, even if the patient had no brain actvity for 3 minutes and 59 seconds, there would still only be a 1/3 chance that there would have been two beeps during his period of no brain activity. That means that there was at least a 67% chance that the number of beeps which he reported was incorrect. (Hint: his period of no brain activity didn’t necessarily start at exactly the moment of the first beep. It could have started one second after the first beep or anywhere in the middle of the three minute cycle.)

    So what you have is a patient who makes a statement which could theoretically be correct but is more likely than not to be incorrect and you are treating this as proof positive of your theory that he really was conscious during his period of no brain activity. Are you able to see why not everyone finds this particularly convincing?

    Moreover, if most likely “off by one” is good enough for you then you might as well count as “proof” every patient who says that he didn’t hear any beeps because 0 is just as close to 1 as 2 is.

    Finally, have you considered the possibility that the patient’s memory of the beeping of the machine applied to the period before or after the period of his no brain activity. Was this machine only turned on at the instant when his brain stopped working or was it running either or both before or after that period? If you don’t definitively know the answer to that question, consider your “evidence” to be about as useless as has been repeatedly pointed out to you.

  30. mumadaddon 27 Oct 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Can someone please explain to what this beeping machine was. Was it there specifically to verify reported consciousness? Or was it there, beeping away, well after the fact?

  31. leo100on 27 Oct 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Mumadadd,

    The beeping machine made three beeps in three minute intervals. The beeping machine was a automated external defibrillator I think.

    AmateurSkeptic,

    Was this machine only turned on at the instant when his brain stopped working or was it running either or both before or after that period?

    The machine was turned on when brain activity ceased.

    Leo, if the machine beeped at “3 minute intervals” and the patient had no brain activity for 3 minutes, he should have heard one beep, not two. In order for it to be even theoretically possible for the patient to have heard two beeps he would have had to have had no brain activity for more than three minutes.

    Should of been more clear it let’s off three beeps in three minute intervals.

    Mumadadd,

    Wouldn’t you agree that the cerebral cortex of the brain is where information processing and language comes from?. If it does, why is it that this part of the brain as least has no brain activity in it when someone is flatlined?. If you expect lower regions of the brain to take over higher processes like information processing and language without the aid of the cerebral cortex well your out of luck its not possible according to neuroscience.

  32. grabulaon 27 Oct 2014 at 8:39 pm

    “It’s an assumption based on multiple converging lines of evidence. Every way this has been tested it’s held up. Every attempt to knock this assumption down has failed. There has been no demonstrated anomalous consciousness absent brain activity. None.”

    Well said mumadadd, not that it will have an impact.

    Defibrillators and AED’s sometimes beep for various reasons, either while charging, to let you know they are charging or to let you know they are charged and ready. The irony here is that a hospital is full of beeps. We commonly think of the cardiac monitor that tracks heartbeats but there are a lot of machines that beep for various reasons. Saying you heard a couple of beeps while in a hospital isn’t far stretch – like saying you smelled antiseptic, or the doctors and nurses wore scrubs. It’s such low hanging fruit it’s ridiculous.

  33. leo100on 27 Oct 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Grabula

    But how did he hear these two beeps when the machine was on at the exact time when he had no brain activity?. One study for example was completely ignored on here by skeptics because it didn’t fit with their perceived belief in materialism, when the study showed that near death experiences are not false memories.

    “But it seems to suggest that what people recall in that moment is particularly genuine,” Agrillo told LiveScience. “It’s not a false memory that occurs after the event.”

    http://www.livescience.com/28472-near-death-experiences-vivid.html

  34. grabulaon 27 Oct 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Leo

    that study was addressed on the AWARE thread, you just don’t pay a whole lot of attention.

    “But how did he hear these two beeps when the machine was on at the exact time when he had no brain activity?.”

    …sigh. Leo, I’m not saying he did or did not hear it, all we have is his word given a long while after the incident occurred. You don’t seem to understand what we’re trying to tell you here. First of all, hearing ‘beeps’ in a hospital is low hanging fruit, it’s easy to confabulate intentionally or not. All we have to know that he heard some beeps is his word. That is why studies have been done with more identifiable and more specific criteria – cards with symbols hidden in various places. I know you stand by you ‘why would a soul consider a card or symbol important’ but then you have to ask yourself, why would it care about beeps?

  35. leo100on 27 Oct 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Grabula,

    Because it’s relevant its connected to his body.

  36. grabulaon 27 Oct 2014 at 10:02 pm

    The beeps are connected to his body…do you know how ridiculous this is getting?

  37. steve12on 28 Oct 2014 at 2:49 am

    ““But how did he hear these two beeps when the machine was on at the exact time when he had no brain activity?.”

    that’s easy, actually. He didn’t hear them. He thinks he was conscious during that time, but he wasn’t. His memory is incorrect, and the gaps got filled. Machines beep away constantly in the hospital – easiest thing to confabulate.

    Given his report, how can you tell the difference between my account and your account?

  38. leo100on 28 Oct 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Steve12,

    What are the chances of him confabulating 2 beeps instead of just 1?. Also, if your thinking he was still somehow conscious even in a semi kind of way during shock treatment, he would have felt the pain of the shocks which is variously described as like being kicked by a mule or having your insides torn out, furthermore, “CPR is very painful and bruises the patients chest sometimes breaking ribs. He reported no pain or discomfort and that is very significant”.

    Grabula

    What I mean is the beeps were near his body. If I was outside my body I would be easily be able to hear those beeps. The beeps are connected to his physical survival.

  39. Bruceon 28 Oct 2014 at 4:05 pm

    “What are the chances of him confabulating 2 beeps instead of just 1”

    What are the chances of winning two lotteries instead of just one, yet it has happened multiple times in every lottery that has ever been run for any length of time? If you knew anything about numbers or stats or if I thought you had any real interest in actually learning anything I would link you some interesting links on statistical anomalies, coincidence and black swan type events.

    Straws… you are clutching them.

  40. mumadaddon 28 Oct 2014 at 4:55 pm

    leo,

    You really aren’t getting this are you? So much wrong with your logic, so many attempts to explain it to you…

    What are the chances of him confabulating 2 beeps instead of just 1?.

    Very, very high, leo. Confabulation, in this context, is the active process of inserting narrative detail learned after the fact into the memories of a prior event. The chance of the confabulation being accurate is about the same as the chance that the information they’re retroactively incorporating is accurate.

    I haven’t seen this particular example, but I’d be willing to bet one of my fingers on the fact that there was no blinding and inadequate controls in place; that the patient was told how long he’d been ‘dead’ for before any attempt to corroborate his recollection was made, and that this machine had been beeping away at 3 minute intervals for days after the event.

    You’re underestimating how well established the unreliability of memory is. There have been studies demonstrating the creation of false memories. Also, the conviction with which you believe what you remember to be true, and the vividness of the memory, are not a good indicator of accuracy.

    Also, if your thinking he was still somehow conscious even in a semi kind of way during shock treatment, he would have felt the pain of the shocks which is variously described as like being kicked by a mule or having your insides torn out,

    The likelihood is that the memories are false, but being able to feel pain is in no way a prerequisite for consciousness, leo.

  41. steve12on 28 Oct 2014 at 5:16 pm

    “What are the chances of him confabulating 2 beeps instead of just 1?.”

    Really?

    ” Also, if your thinking he was still somehow conscious even in a semi kind of way during shock treatment, he would have felt the pain of the shocks which is variously described as like being kicked by a mule or having your insides torn out, furthermore, “CPR is very painful and bruises the patients chest sometimes breaking ribs. He reported no pain or discomfort and that is very significant”.”

    This statement evinces that you haven’t paid even a little bit of attention to anything that I, and many others, have said.

    At this point, through all these threads, to STILL not be clear on what the objection is… I mean wow.

    You’re just kind of being a dick by not really reading what we write.

    No point in talking to you ever again.

  42. steve12on 28 Oct 2014 at 5:20 pm

    “The likelihood is that the memories are false,”

    Mumadadd – isn’t it sort of shocking that he isn’t aware that this is what we’ve all been saying to him forever? Even for a believer like him, to still be unclear on what we’re positing, be it right or wrong.

    I guess I shouldn’t find it so odd.

  43. leo100on 28 Oct 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Bruce

    “I haven’t seen this particular example, but I’d be willing to bet one of my fingers on the fact that there was no blinding and inadequate controls in place; that the patient was told how long he’d been ‘dead’ for before any attempt to corroborate his recollection was made, and that this machine had been beeping away at 3 minute intervals for days after the event.”

    Wait he be told how long he was dead for?. Are you serious?, the patient was dead they just happened to be at the right place at the right time. The machine would of been turned off after the 3 minutes.

    Mumadadd,

    That is indeed an interesting study and I ain’t denying the fact that false memories are a reality. I am just saying that their have been studies such as the the two I linked two earlier the live science one and Penny Sartori’s study which casts doubt on them being false memories as far as near death experiences goes.

  44. grabulaon 28 Oct 2014 at 8:46 pm

    @Leo

    “CPR is very painful and bruises the patients chest sometimes breaking ribs. He reported no pain or discomfort and that is very significant”.”

    Yes, it shows neither does he have an accurate recollection of events and that obviously he wasn’t conscious for the experience. Too easy leo.

    “What I mean is the beeps were near his body. If I was outside my body I would be easily be able to hear those beeps. The beeps are connected to his physical survival.”

    Just more special pleading leo. Why is it you get to make the rules for what’s significant and what’s not?

    Sartoris’ study is crap, we’ve been over that ground, stop kicking that horse.

    So to recap Leo, you claim one anecdotal story from a guy who heard “beeps” in a hospital while simultaneously not feeling CPR or being electrocuted (which you consider significant – I also consider it significant but for logical and rational reasons) and recalled those beeps a long period after the actual events.

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