What happens after we die is a question that many grapple with throughout their lives.
And while many look forward to an afterlife of sorts, others believe we will continue on through reincarnation.
But what do scientists say about what really happens after death?
New York’s Stony Brook University School of Medicine’s researchers discovered evidence that suggests human brain activity still works after death — but just for a few moments.
The person who is dying will understand what is happening despite the heart’s beating coming to a halt.
Scientists shared how the dying person could hear themselves being pronounced dead by medical staff.
And when the heart does not beat — time of death is announced.
Blood does not circulate to the brain and leads to a person losing their brain stem reflexes almost instantly.
This also includes their gag reflex and pupil reflex.
The ‘thinking’ section of the brain, the cerebral cortex, also slows down between two to twenty seconds.
Which translates to brainwaves not being able to be showcased on an electric monitor — eventually leading to the death of the brain cells.
But the process can take hours to complete after the heart has stopped beating.
Scientists were able to discover the post-death consciousness by observing cardiac arrest cases in both Europe and the US.
While technically dead, people who lived through heart attacks were aware of what was going on before being resuscitated.
Those same folks were able to describe events that happened after their hearts stopped beating.
Dr. Sam Parnia led the team of researchers shared with LiveScience the following:
“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.”
Dr. Parnia continued, saying:
“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.”
Those who did go through an ‘after-death’ experience were discovered to show a more positive transformation and were considered to be more altruistic.
Dr. Parnia said:
“What tends to happen is that people who’ve had these very profound experiences may come back positively transformed.”
They become more altruistic as well as more engaged with helping others.
They find a new meaning to life having had an encounter with death. But there isn’t like a sudden magical enhancement of their memories. That’s just Hollywood jazz.”
The research was originally intended to help improve the quality of resuscitation — along with helping the prevention of brain injuries while the heart is being restarted.