A team of researchers has found evidence that you may be keenly aware of the fact that you just died.
The research doesn’t explain why Flatliners didn’t know it was dead until the second time.
The disappointing movie aside, scientists at the NYU Langone School of Medicine say that dead people are aware that they’re dead because they continue to retain some form of consciousness even after their body has flatlined, and they’re getting proof.
Leading a team of researchers, Dr. Sam Parnia said that in theory, someone may even hear their own death being pronounced by medics. He and his team are investigating people who technically died following cardiac arrest, but were later brought back to life. It’s the largest study of its type ever taken.
“In the same way that a group of researchers might be studying the qualitative nature of the human experience of ‘love’, for instance, we’re trying to understand the exact features that people experience when they go through death, because we understand that this is going to reflect the universal experience we’re all going to have when we die,” said Parnia.
The individuals they studied could recall full conversations that they’d heard after they were pronounced dead, and saw things that were going around them when they were supposed to be incapable of doing so. The accounts were verified by medical and nursing staff present around them.
In medical terms, death is defined as the point when the heart stops beating and blood flow to the brain is restricted.
Parnia says that’s how you get the time of death. “It’s all based on the moment when the heart stops,” he said. “Once that happens, blood no longer circulates to the brain, which means brain function halts almost instantaneously. You lose all your brain stem reflexes – your gag reflex, your pupil reflex, all that is gone.”
But there’s evidence that your brain doesn’t stop working when you die. Researchers at the University of Michigan in 2013 detected signals in the brains of nine anesthetized rats with induced heart attacks. It suggests that brain activity continues well after they’re dead. Scientists described it as a “hyper-alerted state” which happens briefly after death.
Whatever the case, all we can hope for is that the things we see after we’re dead don’t come back to haunt us.
Feature Image via YouTube