Dr. Sam Parnia is the director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City. He and his team observed people who had a cardiac arrest, i.e., Who were technically dead, but then were later resuscitated back to life.
‘Brain functions do not cease immediately after the heart stops beating, and that is how people are aware of their death.’
The study was published in the issue of the journal Resuscitation.
Some of the participants who were pronounced dead were fully aware of the conversations going on around them, and could also see things clearly, reveals the research team.
The medical and nursing staff present at the time verified these findings.
Death is defined as the time when the heart no longer beats, and blood flow to the brain is completely cut off.
In previous studies, near-death experiences like seeing flashes of light and tunnels of light, etc. were just anecdotal. This is the first largest study that shows exactly as to what happens during this critical time.
"Technically, that's how you get the time of death, it's all based on the moment when the heart stops, where the brain functions stop, and the individual loses their brain stem reflexes including gag reflex, pupil reflex," said Dr. Sam Parnia.
When someone dies, there's a burst of brain energy that is released, and there is evidence, which can prove these findings.
In 2013, the electrical signals inside the brain's of about nine anesthetized rats who had an induced heart attack were studied by the research team at the University of Michigan.
The research team examined the activity patterns that were linked to a "hyper-alerted state" in the brief period after clinical death.
Dr Parnia said: "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."