UK HealthCare

Scientific Insight to Near-Death Experiences


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 7, 2011) — University of Kentucky neurologist Dr. Kevin Nelson relies on 30 years of research to offer answers on how the brain works during spiritual experiences in his recently released book, "The Spiritual Doorway In the Brain: A Neurologist's Search for the God Experience" (Dutton, $26.95).

Nelson, professor of neurology, UK College of Medicine, and director of medical affairs for UK HealthCare, is a world-renowned expert on examining the processes of spiritual sensation and near-death experiences.

He began his research as a young intern after a patient who had been near death described a battle for his soul that took place between the devil and Jesus at the foot of his bed. Nelson wanted to know what the patient's brain was doing during the struggle he depicted. It also set the course for years of research and collecting case studies of patient's accounts of spiritual experiences.

In his book released Dec. 30, Nelson provides a comprehensive examination of the biology behind spiritual experiences. "This book for the first time inextricably binds spiritual experience to our primal brain," Nelson said. "Yet, even if we knew what each brain molecule does during these experiences, the mystery of spirituality will always live on."

Nelson provides detailed scientific analyses, revealing the physiological and neurological state of the human body in near-death moments, specifically blood flow, fight-or-flight reactions, and REM consciousness. The book includes case histories, Nelson’s own and others, along with historical examples used to detail where and how spiritual experiences happen. The patients and people he talks about in his book have had a variety of spiritual experiences from arguing with the devil to seeing the universe synchronize around the bouncing of the ball in a pinball machine.  

For more information about the book, contact publicist Liza Cassity, (212) 366-2554 or  In addition, Nelson will be participating in a reading, discussion and book signing at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington.