Near-death experiences are said to be the remainder of a primitive survival mechanism

According to these researchers, near-death experiences are an evolution of the technique of “playing dead”.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are still a mystery, but a new study has just offered an explanation. According to researchers from the universities of Liège and Copenhagen who have studied these phenomena, they could be linked to the thanatose.

This defense and survival mechanism employed by many animals is better known under another name: play dead. The study shows that this ploy remained very popular throughout the living kingdom; it allows birds, frogs to escape their predators as a last resort. We even observe this behavior instinctively in humans; there are many documented cases where one of our fellows played dead in front of a lion, a bear… or even another ill-intentioned human, with predatory behavior. This a theme has even already been exploited in fiction. The technique almost worked for Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, to cite a famous example.

A by-product of our social development?

According to the research team, it could come from the development of social skills, and especially linguistic skills. “In this paper, we build a series of evidence that suggests that thanatosis is the evolutionary foundation of IMEs, and that their common utility is to participate in survival.”Explains neurologist Steven Laureys. Thanks to the complexity of our social relations and our communication, we would therefore have developed another form of instinct which can push a mouse to play dead in front of a cat.

The Ascension to the Empyrean by Hieronymus Bosch, sometimes considered as the origin of the myth of the “light at the end of the tunnel”.

The famous “light at the end of the tunnel”- certainly the most frequently mentioned NDE – would therefore only be an evolution of this instinct. And it is the language that would have made it possible to transform this basic behavior into a rich sensory phenomenon, which extends even to situations without predation.

In any case, this reinforces the idea that the mechanisms of these IMEs would have a “biological origin“. But at present, the ins and outs of these phenomena are still very mysterious. It will therefore be necessary to elucidate its evolutionary origins before hoping to understand the phenomenon as a whole.

Source: Journal du Geek by

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