A new research reveals one in 100 Americans report actually having near-death experiences, ranging from out-of-body experiences, meeting dead people, and entering tunnels of light.
In their study, neuroscientist Dean Mobbs, of the University of Cambridge's Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, and Caroline Watt, of the University of Edinburgh, found that "contrary to popular belief, there is nothing paranormal about these experiences.
"Instead, near-death experiences are the manifestation of normal brain function gone awry, during a traumatic, and sometimes harmless, event," the report adds.
Mobbs and Watt noted that many classic NDE symptoms are actually reported by people who were never in danger of dying in the first place.
This suggests that the perception that one is near death is traumatic and disturbing enough to cause some of the experiences.
"The sufferer feels that he or she is dead, even though not actually near death. It can be associated with trauma and some illnesses. It's not fully understood why individuals suffer from Cotard syndrome, but one possibility is that it's the brain's attempt to make sense of the strange experiences that the patient is having," Watt told Discovery News.
Watt believes that near-death experiences hold an enduring fascination for people because they like the idea that humans survive bodily death.
The study has been published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences.