Friday, October 10, 2014

New Study of Near-Death Experiences

A large new study has confirmed life after death - sort of. Researchers found that a significant subset of cardiac patients retained some form of conscious awareness up to three minutes after they were declared clinically dead. This finding is not that surprising given how many patients report classic near-death experiences, but it does refute the contention that such experiences are merely hallucinations.

A team based in the UK has spent the last four years seeking out cardiac arrest patients to analyse their experiences, and found that almost 40 per cent of survivors described having some form of “awareness” at a time when they were declared clinically dead.

Experts currently believe that the brain shuts down within 20 to 30 seconds of the heart stopping beating – and that it is not possible to be aware of anything at all once that has happened. But scientists in the new study said they heard compelling evidence that patients experienced real events for up to three minutes after this had happened – and could recall them accurately once they had been resuscitated.

Dr Sam Parnia, an assistant professor at the State University of New York and a former research fellow at the University of Southampton who led the research, said that he previously thought patients who described near-death experiences were only relating hallucinatory events. One man, however, gave a “very credible” account of what was going on while doctors and nurses tried to bring him back to life – and says that he felt he was observing his resuscitation from the corner of the room.

Researchers still haven't come up with results that imply consciousness actually leaves the body. To do that, some sort of scenario would need to be set up to test whether patients can accurately recall information that they could not possibly perceive with their regular senses. A few doctors here and there have placed pictures on top of cabinets and so forth where they could only be seen by someone floating near the ceiling, but as far as I know it's never been done on a large scale.

So this latest study is interesting from the standpoint of consciousness and its relation to brain states, but it doesn't reveal anything truly paranormal. Rather, it shows that many peoples' minds are much more resilient than previously thought.

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