brain chemistry and mystical experiences

There's a seeker born every minute. dmn at kepler.unh.edu
Sat Oct 2 21:06:13 EST 1993

    What methods are used to determine which chemicals are being
secreted by one's brain at any given moment (say time T)? 
If we aren't yet capable of doing this, how long do you suspect it
will be before we _can_ do this?

    I had an interesting, albeit morbid, idea the other day...
Some folks (specifically who I don't recall) have speculated that
death-bed/near-death mystical experiences might be caused by the release 
of particular chemicals by the brain. It would be interesting to know
just what chemicals _are_ being released by the brain of a dying 
person. I wonder if this sort of research has been, or ever will
be done. The first and most obvious impediment to research of this
sort would be ethics. Would it be ethical to do this? If one
had a consenting subject, I'm not so sure it wouldn't be ethical. 
People apparently sell or donate their corpses to med schools.
Of course, they're already dead by then... but if the device used to
do the measuring wasn't all that physically invasive (ie bothersome) I'm sure
one could find a volunteer somewhere. (perhaps some eliminativist 
materialist philosopher dying of a terminal illness)

    The second impediment would be fear of the results. Would anyone fund
such research? Would researchers be willing to conduct the experiment(s)?





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