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About Dr Nelson

Kevin R. Nelson, M.D.
Kevin Nelson, MD

Photo by Mark Cornelison


B.S., Michigan State University
M.D.,  University of Michigan Medical School
Internship (Internal Medicine), Neurology Residency, University of New Mexico
Board Certification
American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (Neurology)
American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine    (Electromyography)
American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Added Qualification – Clinical Neurophysiology
Added Qualification – Neuromuscular Medicine

Current University of Kentucky Academic Appointments

Director of Medical Affairs
Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs

Professor, Department of NeurologyUniversity of Kentucky Assignments
In the Neurology Department, Dr. Nelson directs the Neuromuscular clinical neurophysiology laboratory and cares for patients with Neuromuscular disease.  As Director of Medical Affairs within the Chief Medical Office, Dr. Nelson is responsible for the credentialing and privileging process of 1300 University of Kentucky Healthcare physicians and providers, and overseeing key clinical activity of 1700 physicians and healthcare providers. Dr. Nelson is also medical director of the UK Risk Management program.

National Committees / Assignments

The American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM; is composed of 5000 member physicians and is the only national organization devoted to all aspects of Neuromuscular Medicine.  Dr. Nelson has served on many AANEM committees, including Chair of Program Committee responsible for organizing and moderating the 2005 Plenary session in Monterey CA entitled: “Emerging concepts and technologies in Neuromuscular Medicine”, Symposia committee(Chair), AANEM Board of Directors, as well as active in developing national accreditation standards for EMG/NCS laboratories.  Dr. Nelson is currently Secretary-Treasurer elect of the AANEM.  For the American Academy of Neurology Dr. Nelson is Councilor for the Clinical Neurophysiology Section.

Research Interests

Exploring the relationship of the autonomic nervous system to arousal and conscious states.


Nelson, K.R., Rivner, M. Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Laboratory in Clinical Neurologic Practice. Seminars in Neurology   10:131 140, 1990.
Harper, C..M., Nelson, K. Intraoperative Electrophysiologic Monitoring in Children.  Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology  9(3): 342-356, 1992.
Nelson, K.R., Goodheart, R., Salotto, A., Tibbs, P.  Median Nerve Entrapment Beneath the Bicipital Aponeurosis:  Investigation with Intraoperative Short Segment Stimulation.  Muscle Nerve  17: 1221-1223, 1994.
Nelson, K.R., Vasconez, H.C.  Nerve Transection Without Neurotonic Discharges During Intraoperative Electromyographic Monitoring.  Muscle Nerve 18, 236-238, 1995.
Warf, B, and Nelson, K.R.  The Electromyographic Responses to Dorsal Rootlet Stimulation during Partial Dorsal Rhizotomy Are Inconsistent.  Pediatr Neurosurg, 25, 13-19, 1996.
Nelson, K.R., Mattingly, M., Lee, S.A., Schmitt, F.A., Does the arousal system contribute to near death experience? Neurology 66:1003–1009, 2006.
Nelson, K.R., Mattingly, M., Schmitt, F.A., Out-of body experience and Arousal. Neurology, 68: 794-5, 2007.

Committee Publications

The Scope of Elecrodiagnostic Medicine.  American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.  Muscle Nerve Supp 8, S5-12, 1999.
Guidelines for Establishing a Quality Assurance Program in an Electrodiagnostic Laboratory. American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.  Muscle Nerve Supp 8, S33-39, 1999.
Risks in Elecrodiagnostic Medicine.  American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.  Muscle Nerve Supp 8, S53-69, 1999.
Somatosensory Evoked Potentials: Clinical Uses.  American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.  Muscle Nerve Supp 8, S11-118., 1999.
Practice Parameter for Electrodiagnostic Studies in Ulnar Neuropathy at the Elbow.  American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.  Muscle Nerve Supp 8, S171-205, 1999.
Practice Parameter for Needle Electromyographic Evaluation of Patients with Suspected Cervical Radiculopathy: Summary Statement.  American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.  Muscle Nerve Supp 8, S209-221, 1999.
Consensus Criteria for the Diagnosis of Partial Conduction Block.  American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.  Muscle Nerve Supp 8, S225-229, 1999.

Books (Book Chapters)

Nelson, K.R.  Intraoperative Nerve Action Potentials.  In:  Neurologic Clinics:  Evoked Potentials.  (Gilmore, R.L. ed.) W. B. Saunders.  6:4, pp. 917 933, 1988.
Nelson, K.R. Carpal Tunnel and Other Nerve Entrapments.  Saunders Manual of Medical Practice,   (Rakel R.E., ed) W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1996.
Nelson, K.R. Carpal Tunnel and Other Nerve Entrapments.  Saunders Manual of Medical Practice,   (Rakel R.E., ed) 2nd. Edition W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1999.
Nelson, K.R.  The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain.  Dutton/Penguin (US), January, 2010 and in the United Kingdom as Nelson, K.R.  The God Impulse.  Simon&Schuster, January, 2010.

  1. Dear Dr. Nelson,
    I hope you are having a fun & joyful time flowing in the divine river of love, joy, peace and compassion.

    I would like to do a 1 hour radio interview by telephone with you.

    • Time, date and all details (i.e. format, etc.) are flexible.

    • Interviews may be sampled at Healers Corner directory listing – see

    • Divine-HealingPAQ radio program is regularly in the top 3% among the 2134 spirituality shows on BlogTalkRadio network with an average of about 2000 downloads per month – see

    • We are HealingPAQ, a non-profit organization, teaching the art and science of self healing, distance healing and healing of living earth globally using love, joy, peace, and compassion through a person’s unique connection to divine – see

    Please contact me at

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

  2. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Thank you for your kind invitation. I would be delighted to speak to your listeners.

  3. I saw the interview with you on AOL My Daily. I was very pleased to see your remark, “Fear is intertwined with the mystical oneness…” In my book Saddling Dragons, Love Fear and Other Adventures in Mysticism Chapter 9: Fear as BFF is dedicated to that premise. It is rare that anyone will notice and/or acknowledge that idea. I look forward to reading your book.

  4. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    It is wonderful to hear that others have seen the tie of mystical oneness and primal fear. I think that it is an important observation that has been overlooked.

  5. David Spillane permalink

    I quite enjoyed your book and offer the following comments:
    - One factual error: on page 230 you state Meister Eckhart was “excommunicated.” This is incorrect. While some of his propositions were condemned, he himself was not.
    - some avenues for further research might be: holotropic breathwork, a technique developed by Stanislav Grof, which through hyperventilating and the playing of evocative music evokes non-ordinary states of consciousness without the use of drugs. Also The Monroe Institute, which apparently teaches attendees to have OBE,s volitionally. See
    - Several years ago while meditating I had two brief OBE experiences. When discussing this with a profound Thai Buddhist meditative practitioner, he remarked that in his tradition the value of this type of experience was to be aware that most likely in the death process one will have such experiences, and should diligently avoid attaching to them as to do so would get you once again enmeshed in this worldly realm. An interesting perspective.
    _To push your envelope I suggest reading two books by Bernadette Roberts: The Experience of No- Self and What Is Self? – A study of the Spiritual Journey in Terms of Consciousness. See

    Keep up the good work. Dave

  6. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Thanks for your post and your point about the great Meister Eckhart. Yes, although Eckhart was found by Rome to be a heretic, the Pope later declared that Eckhart retracted his heresy. And also thanks for your recommendations, I will look into them.

  7. Greetings Kevin,

    After reading your book we were inspired to share with you a short 2-page pdf essay on Einstein’s relativity theory as it indicates the purpose of Life and our relationship with God. Your work is indeed inspired, and if you are so intrigued we have a wonderful way in which we believe the content of the essay could be scientifically verified through thought brain analysis. Enjoy the soul math below and may you, your family and your path be showered with blessings.

    In Light & Love,
    Jacob & Elizabeth

    Here’s the link to your pdf file:

    Soul Math:
    “I AM” Kevin Nelson M.D. – M.D. = “I AM” Kevin Nelson
    “I AM” Kevin Nelson – Kevin Nelson = “I AM”

    The Name of God…”I AM”

  8. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Jacob and Elizabeth,
    I will take a look. thanks

  9. Bruce W. Capriotti permalink

    April 26, 2011

    Bruce W. Capriotti

    Kevin Nelson, M. D.
    University of Kentucky

    Dear Dr Nelson:

    Congratulations on your groundbreaking research and publication of your book The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain. It is seldom the general public has access to such research findings written and published by the researcher himself and put into a format that is both readable and understandable. The book lays a solid foundation on which you base your theories and is well documented with anecdotes related to you by: patients, friends and research subjects. I found the book a compelling read and have a desire to learn more.

    However, I would like to suggest a few areas where I think the book could be improved. First, although you do explain the physiological basis of the subject about which you write, you do so in a form and at a level where you assume your audience has some background in anatomy and physiology. More often than not, many persons who would like to learn about your research lack the background to understand much about what you are trying to communicate. They do not understand the anatomy of the brain. They have no idea what the difference is between the paleocortex and neo cortex, never mind the individual structures such as the: amygdala, hippocampus, frontal lobes temporal and parietal lobes or the pineal gland. They have little understanding of what neurotransmitters are or for that matter how the endocrine system works. If they are to get anything out of your book, it is essential that they have, at least a rudimentary understanding of the structures and chemistry and how they work. Sadly, not even many college educated persons know these things. It is my suggestion that you include a chapter, chapters or section that covers this material in a simple and understandable form. It should be complete with simple and understandable colored diagrams. If I may suggest a model or style, I think “the Mayo Clinic Health Letter” could serve as a possible model. It treats complex topics in an easy to understand form and has a format which most people with a high school education, or equivalent, can understand. In addition to this, I would add an explanation of the various imaging techniques used or that would have possible use in such studies. I.e., X rays. CT scanning, MRIs, and PET scans. Although most people are aware that such technologies exist or have even had these tools used on themselves, few, really understand how they work and what information one particular tool yields as opposed to another. Again, I think this would be most helpful.

    The rest of the book is just fine!

    I, as a reader, would like to know more about how religious beliefs develop in the brain, what makes people adhere to them or reject them etc. At what stage of life are they learned and how to they become engrained as a part of us. What is the physiological basis? What does it take to change and/or reject a belief set and again, what is the physiological basis? Publication of present or future work, done in these areas would be of interest to a wide audience, at least that is my opinion.

    Anyway, thank you again, for writing and publishing this most provocative and interesting book.

    With greatest appreciation,

    Bruce W. Capriotti

    P. S. I would like to point out what I think is a minor error. Rene Descartes was the father, “inventor” of analytic geometry, not Calculus, hence the name “Cartesian coordinates”. It was Sir Isaac Newton and the German philosopher Leibniz who independently, and nearly contemporaneously, developed calculus. It is mostly Leibnitz’s symbology that is used to date as Newton’s was most cumbersome. However, Newton put the “new tool’ to immediate use in his development of the “laws of motion”

  10. David Weale permalink

    Greetings Kevin…am reading your book with great interest (it was loaned to me by Ray Brow, a mutual friend) and fear I may get little done the rest of the day. I find it to be a book of great integrity, and have come across one little statement that had the effect on me that your insight about REM had on you. It is: “The default brain state is belief.” It sent my mind racing as I thought of all the situations involving “true believers” where even highly intelligent individuals show the propensity for latching onto some certainty of thought — in politics, religion, economics, academia etc. etc. Could it be that it is simply less arduous…perhaps much less arduous…and therefore such a temptation. And is my delight in discovering this, and the relief I feel, an example? (-:

    Am reminded in all of this of Alan Watts book on the wisdom of uncertainty, which had a great impact on me as a young man.

    Congratulations …David Weale

  11. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    SO nice to hear from you! Yes, in many ways belief might be the path of least resistance. Critical thought is not for lazy or the faint of heart. I too read Alan Watts in my college days, and as you will soon be able to tell, John C. Lilly. We have a lot of catching up to do when I return to PEI this summer. My best to all.


  12. Bill permalink

    Dear Dr. Nelson,

    I have just completed reading The Spitual Doorway in the Brain and wanted to thank you for your work. Having been brought up Catholic only to transition through atheism and sprituality, I finally came to the point where I realised that, despite any types of experiences I may have had that might compel me to believe in a spiritual reality beyond the physical, when it gets down to it, I really don’t know for sure and, eventhough I probably still believe there is, this belief is meaningless.

    What I appreciated about your book is that in it, you are careful not to make any claims regarding the reality or unreality of the existence of the spiritual. Instead, your point seems to be that those experiences that people use to help justify their belief seem to have verifiable causes within the brain.

    Although many “believers” may view your work as a threat, it seems to me that any work that brings insight into the mysteries of our human experience must be helpful…if for no other reason than to help some us not to settle on belief.

    This book wets my appetite for more and makes me wonder how various “enlightened” people, present and past, seem to be able to tap into the the more primitive realms of our minds/brains that produce profound spritual experiences, not as the result of fear or physical crisis, but through their mental discipline and what seems to be the withdrawal of their sense of identity and the meaning given to the outside world.

    If you have any further insight into this matter, or know of materials from others who have approached their work with the same integrity with which you carried out yours, I would be very interested in learning of it.

    Thanks again for your inspiring work.


  13. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    You have hit upon what I think is one of the book’s essence. This is not a book about what is real or not real outside the brain in these experiences. Instead the brain is fundamental and all that we can know right now. I emphasize the “how” within the brain and leave (the more interesting) “why” to faith. One of the pleasant surprises that came to me after releasing the book was how several in the community of faith have strongly embraced the book. That includes the church in which I raised my children. Speaking to the faithful has been a real joy for me. I too am keenly searching for how the arousal brain has influenced spiritual experience. As I learn more I will pass it along.

  14. Angie Dortch permalink

    Dr. Nelson-
    I have read your book from cover to cover and would love to get your insight into my experience with the mystical while I was in a coma. There were many things in your book that resonated with me; however, many that did not and an objective,scientific response would add still more information for me to discern. Thanks!
    Angie Dortch

  15. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    I’d be happy to respond to questions you may have about your experience.

  16. Richard Galenes permalink

    I enjoyed reading about William James. He is one of my favorite philosophers. To paraphrase one of this key ideas:in order to disprove the assumption that all crows are back, the existence of only one white crow need be demonstrated.

    It seems to me what we are dealing with here is the question of consciousness existing apart from the body. If it is shown that ONE case of automatic writing, poltergeist activity, ghostly manifestations denoting a degree of intelligence, should be shown to have occurred it disproves the assumption that bodily existence is necessary for intelligence to operate.

    I noticed that in your description of “out of the body” experiences, you do not refer to the many cases in which the patient records actions from the staff, even in another room. There are also cases where the spirit body has interacted with friends or family even at distances of hundreds of miles away. We know from their accounts that the visitation occurred.

    There are cases in which a person is taken over by another consciousness. There are also verified accounts in which the person begins to speak in another language. It is far more difficult to explain when the language, for example, in 4th century Greek.

    I have been studying the after death for over five decades. The existence of non-bodily intelligence has been demonstrated time and time again.

    I would enjoy hearing from you. Hopefully we can exchange letters by email.

    Richard Galenes

  17. Richard Galenes permalink

    I wonder if you have read the book “Soul Survivor”.

    It concerns a little body (from ages 3 to 5) who remembers a precious life as a World War II pilot. The boys father was a supreme skeptic at first.
    But as months and years passed he did research and was able to confirm his son’s information. This included names from other pilots who the father contacted. It all fit together like a hand inside of a glove.

    The odds of this happening by chance must be astronomical! You just might find the book FASCINATING, as did I.

    Richard Galenes

  18. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    I have gained a deeper appreciation of William James over the years, and am glad that you point to his importance. One of his great perspectives comes from his embracing the great and unknown world beyond us; and like James, I too am open to its staggering possibilities. Arguably the most important question before us is whether our consciousness in some form can exist outside the brain, as part of that great unknown. I personally would be delighted if it could be so, but alas, the neuroscientific demonstration so far is lacking. I have yet to read of an account whereby it is conclusively demonstrated that consciousness outside the brain happens. So many things can go awry with subtle and usually undetected influences that lead to experiences suggesting this is can happen. As for the explanations of how one can be aware or know what happens elsewhere when out-of-body, in each case I have examined there mundane and conventional explanations-that is if one accepts science. The most recent of these narratives is “Heaven is for Real”. I will follow your suggestion and read “Soul Survivor” with an open, yet questioning mind. I can see that you have one as well. Science can not answer some of our most important questions, and here faith must guide us. After I wrote the book, I realized that perhaps I should have placed the epilogue first to make these points clearer.

  19. Richard Galenes permalink


    I was wondering if you had read the book “Soul Survivor” yet. Probably one of the best evidence for reincarnation yet.

    I have finished a book called The Source Field Investigations by David Wilcock. On page 166 of this work, Dr. John Lorber, an expert on hydrocephalus (water on the brain), describes a young student with an I.Q. of 126, nevertheless had a brain consisting of a one-millimeter thick layer against the inside of the skull. The student graduated with a first class honors degree in mathematics despite having virtually no brain. (!)

    I’m sure you will find the above of great interest.

    Richard Galenes

  20. Rachel Atkinson permalink

    Afternoon Dr Nelson

    I have just stumbled across your name whilst attempting to research my recent experiences with Lucid Dreaming. I’m afraid I haven’t read your work but am now looking forward to reading it with interest.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on my recent experiences, which are becoming particularly intrusive and problematic in my day to day life.

    I’m sure you receive requests for help frequently and, considering how busy you must be, are unable to answer them all. However if you would be willing to pass along some of your insight I’d be most grateful.

    I live in Scotland, UK and am currently awaiting my second referral to Sleep Medicine. I am also awaiting an appointment with Surgical Neurology (with regards to neurological pain/tingling/numbness etc) but I get the impression that my own GP finds my experiences a little strange, and is pointing me in the direction of psychology/psychiatry. I’m fascinated by the thought that my experiences have a psychical cause and that my increase in Lucid Dreams and my physical sensations are in fact linked. Its somewhat difficult to explain without people looking at me strangely, so to be able to discuss with a specialist such as yourself would be refreshing.

    I very much look forward to hearing from you.

    With Kind Regards


  21. Gerry Warner permalink

    Dear Dr. Nelson.

    The phrase “borderlands of consciousness” occurred to me as I was considering names for for a website and upon googling those words I stumbled upon your research.

    No doubt I will be reading your work much more in depth as it adds an interesting amplification to a phenomena that I have been experiencing since August of last year.

    I have been capturing an extraordinary amount of rather unusual photos that many would consider “paranormal” although to my perception, the experiences are considerably more spiritual. So far I have accumulated over 2500 photos.

    It is difficult to describe, however I have created a FaceBook page to illustrate many of the images. I am extremely careful as to protect the integrity of the photos from smoke, fog, vapor, etc. and I can assure you all of the images have no traces of these elements and are quite authentic.

    Here is the link

    I have done a couple of radio interviews so far although I am reluctant to rush into any publicity as I want to be taken seriously and avoid any pop-culture paranormal notions that accompany this kind of thing. To me, this is entirely spiritual and somehow aligned with my soul’s purpose. I’m certainly not in this for the attention, I simply want to know and explore the truth of what I am experiencing.

    Whoever these Energies, Spirits, etc. are that are manifesting in my presence, They seem to be tending my where pretty much wherever I go as I have captured their images in various locations in Pennsylvania and Ohio. I think by all accounts we are seeing a thinning of the veils and this may very well be more evidence of that theory.

    At any rate, I thought “borderlands of consciousness” was an original notion until I discovered your work. I just wanted to acknowledge you in essentially beating me to the mark for creating it. As I don’t believe in coincidences, I remain certain that your research will add an interesting new dimension to my understanding of the phenomena that I have been experiencing.

    Thanks so very much!!

    Most Cordially,

    Gerry Warner
    Pittsburgh, PA

  22. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    The term “borderlands” was used by Oliver Sacks to describe my work which in turn is taken from Hulings Jackson in the 19th century. Thanks for your interest.

  23. Izabel S.Ganz, PhD permalink

    Dear Dr.Nelson:

    I have listened your most interesting interview on Coast to Coast am. I would like to submit two points for your further research.

    1. No mention was made of the HEART and brain relationship, and the fact that the heart is a 5000 times stronger electromagnetic device than the brain, and that includes cells which are neurologically parallel to the brain’s. Perhaps switching from being brain controlled to being heart controlled may be next step in human evolution? Letting the brain just be the transmitter, and manager, and the heart the source…

    2. You have talked about the NDE’s and their brain connection, and both you and George are totally unaware of how those are experienced in other cultures. I have lived in India for years and I wish I had brought this page from the India Times with me, where dozens of people were quoted, with names and dates, describing their NDEs as being taken forcibly by emissaries of Yama, God of the Underworld. Subsequently an error was discovered and they were returned, to life, either by the emissaries themselves, or by Yama ( who acted very angry against his henchmen, for their mistake). A friend of mine recounted an experience of her aunt. who after being thus returned continued to investigate the neighbourhood and found out that a day later a woman with the same name died a few streets away from the aunt’s house in New Delhi. How can the brain’s activity be seen as partricipating in such NDE’s, and why are they so different in various continents.

    I would love to hear you,, George or any of his interviewees relate to this cultural or religious difference.

    I think you are doing a great job investigating the spirituality and brain activity link, and I am sure you will at some point include the Heart/brain connection. The HeartMath Institute’s many years of research may be of use to you.


    Izabel Ganz

  24. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    In fact in the book I go into great length about the relationship of the heart and brain. For example on page 205 I discuss how stimulating the heart’s major nerve (vagus) can almost immediately bring on REM consciousness, sometimes called “reflex REM narcolepsy” or “narcoleptic reflex”. Thanks for writing.

  25. Phil Sanders permalink


    Only have heard part of your interview on C2C , but what I did hear was a bit disturbing to me. Seemed to me you are aiming at a reductionist point of view regarding NDE’s. Please correct me if I am wrong. Didnt hear anything about the logical structure of NDE’s, specifically the significance of the life review that some have and how they experience the effect they have had on others during their life as if they were the person being affected. This is an important point because it demonstrates the truly spiritual aspect of the NDE. The experiencers are learning what they did right and wrong in their life. This does not correlate with your interpretations as I understand them because the one observation points to a reason why people experience these things. The other point I would like to make is in regards to how quickly explain away the light and out of body experiences. You seem to be taking the position that most reductionists take, namely that there cant possibly be such a thing as an actual out of body experience and therefore there must be a biochemical reason. The fact that there are regions of the brain that do participate in the NDE dont necessarily make them the source of the experience. I believe it was Kenneth Ring that made the analogy that the brain is the “radio receiver”, not to be confused with the source of the programming that is heard. Nothing you have said has negated this simple notion. Your fine work has demonstrated those regions of the brain that are involved, but they by no means prove they are the source of what is experience.
    There are alternative explanations that don’t require erudite arm waving. Here they are. People do leave their bodies, talk with dead relatives, and see the light of god. Occam’s razor can apply here.

  26. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Thanks for raising these important points. Yes I am concerned about HOW the brain participates in near-death experiences. I am in William James’ camp who once said of spritual experiences like near-death “by their fruits ye should know them, not by their roots”. Much wisdom in those words.

    As for the notion that the brain is a “reciever”, I am a man of science. And the science behind this simple notion is ….? So that explanation is beyond my province.

    And as I’ve said before, don’t underestimate the power of the brain to bring us experiences.


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