A large scale study of more than 2,000 people has found that consciousness continues to live even after a person has died.
The British study conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton found that people still continue to have thoughts even after being declared brain dead, and also found compelling evidence that out-of-body experiences are real.
Express.co.uk reports: It had been believed the brain stopped all activity 30 seconds after the heart had stopped pumping blood around the body, and that with that, awareness ceases too.
However, the study from the University of Southampton shows people still experience awareness for up to three minutes after they had been pronounced dead.
Lead researcher Dr Sam Parnia said: “Contrary to perception, death is not a specific moment but a potentially reversible process that occurs after any severe illness or accident causes the heart, lungs and brain to cease functioning.
“If attempts are made to reverse this process, it is referred to as ‘cardiac arrest’; however, if these attempts do not succeed it is called ‘death’.”
Of the 2,060 patients from Austria, the US and the UK interviewed for the study who had survived cardiac arrest, almost 40 per cent said that they recall some form of awareness after being pronounced clinically dead.
Dr Parnia continued: “This suggests more people may have mental activity initially but then lose their memories after recovery, either due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory recall.”
Of those who said they had experienced some awareness, just two per cent said their experience was consistent with the feeling of an outer body experience – where one feels completely aware and can hear and see what’s going on around them after death.
Almost half of the respondents said the experience was not of awareness, but rather of fear.
However, the most significant finding of the study is that of a 57-year old man who is perhaps the first confirmed outer body experience in a patient.
The man was able to recall with eerie accuracy what was going on around him after he had ‘died’ temporarily.
Dr Parnia continued: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating.
“In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat.
“This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted.
“Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events.”