Researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine found that among patients who were clinically dead after a heart attack, but ultimately survived, 40 percent experienced consciousness while dead. The study involved patients from hospitals in the UK and America who suffered heart attacks that led to clinical death. About 10 percent of the 567 patients survived and were able to be released from the hospital. It is among this group that reports of consciousness during death was reported.
The study also found that in a subset of these patients, who received brain monitoring, nearly 40% had brain activity that returned to normal, or nearly normal, from a “flatline” state, at points even an hour into CPR. As captured by EEG, a technology that records brain activity with electrodes, the patients saw spikes in the gamma, delta, theta, alpha, and beta waves associated with higher mental function.
The study authors theorize the “dying brain,” one that appears to have “flatlined,” loses what is called its natural inhibitory systems, or “braking” systems that allow the mind to focus on immediate, essential perceptions.
Senior study author Dr. Sam Parnia said of the study, “Although doctors have long thought that the brain suffers permanent damage about 10 minutes after the heart stops supplying it with oxygen, our work found that the brain can show signs of electrical recovery long into ongoing CPR. This is the first large study to show that these recollections and brain wave changes may be signs of universal, shared elements of so-called near-death experiences. These experiences provide a glimpse into a real, yet little understood dimension of human consciousness that becomes uncovered with death. The findings may also guide the design of new ways to restart the heart or prevent brain injuries and hold implications for transplantation.”
The study authors are staying away from the whole debate of whether there is life after death, rather they are focused on what the study can show that can lead to help people that are living.