Death has just become even more frightening: scientists say that people realize they are dead because their consciousness continues to work after the body has stopped showing signs of life. That means somebody can also hear their own death being declared by medics.
The claim was made by Dr. Sam Parnia, Critical Care and Resuscitation Research Director at New York City’s NYU Langone School of Medicine.
He and his colleagues are looking at people who suffered cardiac arrest, technically died, but were later revived. It is the largest study of its kind ever conducted.
Some of those surveyed suggest they’ve been mindful of complete conversations and seeing things happening around them, even after they’ve been declared dead. The medical and nursing staff who were present at the time confirmed these reports.
Death is described as the point where the heart is no longer beating and blood flow is cut off to the brain.
“Technically, that’s how you get the time of death – it’s all based on the moment when the heart stops. 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.”, Dr Sam Parnia said.
There is evidence, however, that as someone dies, there is a burst of brain energy. Scientists at Michigan University looked at the electrical signals inside the brains of nine anesthetized rats with an induced heart attack in 2013. They saw patterns of behavior that in the short period after medical death were related to a “hyper-alerted state.”
“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.”