Recent scientific studies have confirmed that consciousness persists long after the body has died. The studies have forced medical researchers to conclude that people who have died know that they are dead because their consciousness persists long after all physical signs of life have ceased.
Doctors usually declare a patient dead after breathing ceases, heartbeat stops, and no brainwaves are detected for several seconds. According to clinicians, once the heart stops beating, the cerebral cortex — considered to be the seat of thought and consciousness — flatlines, and monitors are unable to detect brainwaves.
However, many people who revived after all the vital signs had stopped were able to recall events in hospital rooms and wards long after doctors had pronounced them dead. Some patients recall the moment that doctors pronounced them dead. Others recall details of conversations between medical staff attending to them. This, according to researchers, implies that consciousness persists long after clinical death.
“Technically, that’s how you get the time of death – it’s all based on the moment when the heart stops,” explained Dr. Sam Parnia, co-author of a recent study of “life after death” by a team at the New York University Langone School of Medicine.
“Once [the heart stops] blood no longer circulates to the brain, which means brain function halts almost instantaneously,” Parnia continued. “You lose all your brain stem reflexes – your gag reflex, your pupil reflex, all that is gone.”
Parnia confirmed that medical staff had verified the details of many people’s recollection of events after they were pronounced dead. People have reported falling through a tunnel and seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Others have reported floating out of their bodies and watching medics battling to save their lives.
The researchers from the New York University Langone School of Medicine concluded after an analysis of multiple reports that consciousness lingers long after doctors have declared their patients dead.
“They’ll describe watching doctors and nurses working and they’ll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them,” Parnia told Live Science.
The researchers were able to verify the details of the patients’ recollection of conversations between medical staff and visual scenes after they were thought to have died. Medical staff confirmed the detailed accounts given by patients who claimed they were aware of what happened long after they were pronounced dead by medical staff.
The accounts have led researchers to suggest that it takes brain cells several hours to die after brainwaves are undetectable and that the verifiable experiences that patients report could be due to residual physiological activity associated with altered patterns of activity after blood supply is cut off from the brain.
[Featured Image by Andriano. CZ/Shutterstock]