O epifania che ha anche il significato di apparizione, venuta, esperienza divina. Aree particolari del cervello sono stimolate quando alcune persone hanno esperienze di allucinazioni o di estraniazione dal corpo. Niente di miracoloso dunque, ma solo un picco epilettico con maggiore interesse del lobo temporale in concomitanza con l’esperienza mistica. L’estrema somiglianza con la realtà è dovuta ai centri del cervello interessati che sono gli stessi che agiscono per interpretare la realtà della vita di tutti i giorni.
Ecstatic seizures are rare — they only occur in something like 1 or 2 percent of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. But the last half century has seen an enormous increase in the prevalence of other states sometimes permeated by religious joy and awe, “heavenly” visions and voices, and, not infrequently, religious conversion or metanoia. Among these are out-of-body experiences (OBEs), which are more common now that more patients can be brought back to life from serious cardiac arrests and the like — and much more elaborate and numinous experiences called near-death experiences (NDEs).
Both OBEs and NDEs, which occur in waking but often profoundly altered states of consciousness, cause hallucinations so vivid and compelling that those who experience them may deny the term hallucination, and insist on their reality. And the fact that there are marked similarities in individual descriptions is taken by some to indicate their objective “reality.”
EEG with epileptic waveforms [Wikimedia Commons]
But the fundamental reason that hallucinations — whatever their cause or modality — seem so real is that they deploy the very same systems in the brain that actual perceptions do. When one hallucinates voices, the auditory pathways are activated; when one hallucinates a face, the fusiform face area, normally used to perceive and identify faces in the environment, is stimulated