A new study led by Dr. Sam Parnia and his colleagues at NYU Langone Health has provided comprehensive evidence suggesting a correlation between brain patterns observed in dying patients and commonly reported “near-death experiences” (NDEs), such as lucid visions, out-of-body sensations, and life reviews. The study involved 567 patients in 25 hospitals worldwide who underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after cardiac arrest. Electroencephalogram (EEG) brain signals from these patients revealed heightened consciousness episodes occurring up to an hour after cardiac arrest, with some patients reporting awareness during CPR and NDEs.
The research indicates that the transition from life to death may trigger a state of disinhibition in the brain, facilitating an enhanced understanding of new dimensions of reality, including deeper consciousness, memories, thoughts, intentions, and ethical perspectives. This finding has profound implications for fields such as CPR research, end-of-life care, and the study of consciousness. It challenges the notion that the brain permanently dies within minutes of oxygen deprivation and suggests that it can recover function even after an hour.
The study’s results align with a growing body of research on the experiences of dying individuals, revealing surges of brain activity during death and common themes in NDEs reported across different cultures and backgrounds. The researchers emphasize that these experiences are distinct from dreams or hallucinations and conclude that they emerge uniquely with death, representing a genuine phenomenon. Future research aims to provide a more detailed understanding of the neurophysiology of life and death as individuals transition through these states.
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