Robert and Suzanne Mays

Presentation Title:  Analysis of NDE memories and EEG evidence leads to a new model of mind and brain.

Presentation Description: Near-death experiencers (NDErs) report that the memory of their NDE is more vivid and lucid than ordinary memories. Two recent analyses of NDE memories showed that they have significantly more characteristics, like visual details, memory clarity, self-referential information (being involved in the event) and emotional content than both memories of real events and imagined events. In addition, the EEG patterns in NDErs differ significantly in several characteristics when the NDErs recall their NDE than non-NDErs when they recall real or imagined events. The hypothesis that the non-material mind separates from the physical body during an NDE is consistent with these findings. According to the hypothesis, when the mind is separated from the body, sensations are experienced directly rather than through the physical senses and the memories are recorded directly in the mind rather than through the hippocampus. The recall of NDE memories would then use different pathways and electrical patterns than ordinary recall of episodic memories. Indeed, we hypothesize that the recall of NDE memories involves an altered state of consciousness which is more like a re-living of the experience than simply recalling a series of events. The evidence from NDEs supports the idea that memories in general are stored in the non-material mind rather than as pattern encodings in neural structures. Ordinary episodic memories are recorded in the mind through pathways in the hippocampus and are recalled again from the mind through reverse hippocampal pathways that reactivate the same sensory and mental neural components, but at a lower intensity.

Biography: Robert and Suzanne Mays have studied the phenomena related to near-death experiences (NDEs) together for over 35 years, although neither has had a near-death experience. Their research interests include: phenomena connected with near-death experiences (NDEs) and shared-death experiences (SDEs) and their implications for understanding consciousness and neurological function, in particular (1) phenomena connected with the out-of-body component of NDEs, especially veridical perceptions during NDEs and SDEs, and apparent interactions during NDEs between the NDEr and physical reality, and (2) neurological evidence of the nonmaterial mind during ordinary consciousness, especially in memory formation and recall. Robert received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from MIT and worked in software development at Eastman Kodak and later at IBM for more than 30 years, where he achieved the level of Senior Software Engineer.

Website: http://selfconsciousmind.com

Research Areas: Phenomena connected with near-death experiences (NDEs) and shared-death experiences (SDEs) and their implications for understanding consciousness and neurological function, in particular:

  • The phenomena connected with the out-of-body component of the NDE, especially veridical perceptions during NDEs and SDEs, and apparent interactions during NDEs between the NDEr and physical reality.
  • Neurological evidence of the autonomous “self-conscious mind” during ordinary consciousness.
  • Neurological mechanisms for an interface between the “mind” and the brain.
  • Specific research on phantom limbs, focusing on perceivable interactions with another person’s body and measurable interactions with physical processes.
  • Verification and corroboration of specific veridical perceptions during an NDE, such as those of George Ritchie

Publications:

  • Mays, R. G., and Mays, S. B. (2011). A theory of mind and body that solves the "hard problem" of consciousness. Paper presented at 2011 IANDS Conference (Durham, September 2011).
  • Mays, R. G., and Mays, S. B. (2010) A theory of mind and body that solves the "hard problem". Poster presentation at theToward a Science of Consciousness conference (Tucson, Arizona, April 13-17, 2010)..
  • Mays, R. G., and Mays, S. B. (2008). The phenomenology of the self conscious mind. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 27(1), 5-45.
  • Mays, R. G., and Mays, S. B. (2008). Phantom limb "touch" suggests that a "mind-limb" extends beyond the physical body. Poster presentation at the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference (Tucson, Arizona, April 8-12, 2008).
  • Mays, R. G., and Mays, S. B. (2015). Explaining Near-Death Experiences: Physical or Non-physical Causation? Journal of Near-Death Studies, 33(3), 125-149. (abstract, reprints on request)

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