By John Salak –
Sure, some will scoff and claim these kinds of reports always surface right around Halloween. But some pretty reputable research organizations and hospitals are reporting that a startlingly large percentage of patients who suffered heart stoppages had distinct recollections after experiencing death before they were resuscitated. The related research is apparently opening up new thinking about what may possibly be facing people after death.
One recent study that involved 25 hospitals in the U.S. and Britain found that some survivors of cardiac arrest described lucid death experiences that occurred while they were seemingly unconscious and flatlining. In fact, approximately, 40 percent of patients who survived recalled some degree of consciousness during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) not captured by standard measures.
More specifically, up to an hour after their hearts had stopped, some patients revived by cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) had clear memories afterward of experiencing death and had brain patterns while unconscious linked to thought and memory. Headed by the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the research also found that in a subset of these patients, who received brain monitoring, nearly 40% had brain activity that returned to normal, or nearly normal, from a “flatline” state even an hour into CPR.
The “memories” experienced during these periods of death were different from hallucinations, delusions, illusions, dreams or CPR-induced consciousness, the research team reported. Instead, survivors reported having heightened awareness and powerful, lucid experiences. These included a perception of separation from the body; observing events without pain or distress; and a meaningful evaluation of their actions and relationships.
The NYU team did not specifically link these experiences to the afterlife or ghost-like scenarios. Instead, they speculated that the “flatlined,” dying brain may remove natural inhibitory systems. Ultimately, the process, known as disinhibition, may open access to “new dimensions of reality,” the researchers concluded. This could include lucid recall of all stored memories from early childhood to death, evaluated from the perspective of morality.
They acknowledged a limited understanding of the evolutionary purpose of disinhibition, yet the team stressed their work “opens the door to a systematic exploration of what happens when a person dies.”
“Although doctors have long thought that the brain suffers permanent damage about 10 minutes after the heart stops supplying it with oxygen, our work found that the brain can show signs of electrical recovery long into ongoing CPR. This is the first large study to show that these recollections and brain wave changes may be signs of universal, shared elements of so-called near-death experiences,” reported senior study author Dr. Sam Parnia, an associate professor at NYU.
In a tantalizing follow-up, Parnia said the international team’s work may help to lift the veil covering a new unexplored realm of reality, while also advancing medical practices. “These experiences provide a glimpse into a real, yet little understood dimension of human consciousness that becomes uncovered with death,’ he said. “The findings may also guide the design of new ways to restart the heart or prevent brain injuries and hold implications for transplantation.”
Earlier reports by NYU and Parnia involving near- or after-death experiences cited similar findings and insights.
“These recalled experiences and brain wave changes may be the first signs of the so-called near-death experience, and we have captured them for the first time in a large study,” Parnia said at the time. “Our results offer evidence that while on the brink of death and in a coma, people undergo a unique inner conscious experience, including awareness without distress.”
The studies were able to identify measurable electrical signs of lucid and heightened brain activity, which together with similar stories of recalled death experiences, suggests that the human sense of self and consciousness, much like other biological body functions, may not stop completely around the time of death.
“These lucid experiences cannot be considered a trick of a disordered or dying brain, but rather a unique human experience that emerges on the brink of death,” he noted. All of this, Parnia added, leaves “intriguing questions about human consciousness, even at death.”