If you’ve ever been made fun of for believing in life after death, well, prepare to feel vindicated.
Research conducted by the Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York suggests our brains continue to function for a short time after we die. Which means – you guessed it – a recently deceased person knows they’re dead.
The study examined cases of cardiac arrest in Europe and the US. They discovered that consiousness doesn’t immediately end once a person’s heart stops beating, which is why those who have been resusciatated can recount details from while they were technically dead.
Examples featured in the study range from people who heard themselves being pronounced dead, to conversations between doctors and nurses.
Speaking to Live Science, research leader Dr Sam Parnia explained: “They’ll describe watching doctors and nurses working, they’ll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them.
“It [the time a patient is declared dead] is all based on the moment when the heart stops. Technically speaking, that’s how you get the time of death.”
Once the heart has ceased beating, blood stops circulating to the brain and it starts shutting down. This also means brain waves can no longer be detected on an electric monitor.
However, this action can take hours to complete, which explains why people can understand what’s going on around them despite supposedly having passed.
The team aim to use the results of the study to improve the treatment of cardiac arrests and avert brain injuries during resusciatation.
Dr Parnia continued: “If you manage to restart the heart, which is what CPR attempts to do, you’ll gradually start to get the brain functioning again.
“The longer you’re doing CPR, those brain cell death pathways are still happening — they’re just happening at a slightly slower rate.
“We study the human mind and consciousness in the context of death, to understand whether consciousness becomes annihilated or whether it continues after you’ve died for some period of time — and how that relates to what’s happening inside the brain in real time.”
So there you have it – life after death does exist. The jury is still out on ghosts though.