Humans have long wondered what happens after death. A new study may have the answer to this long-lasting question.
A team of researchers at New York’s Stony Brook University School of Medicine found that people know when they’re dead because their brains keep working to make them aware of what’s happening around them.
Though many believe in the afterlife, the scientists have another thing in mind.
They found that the brain is still active for some time after the heart and other organs stop functioning.
Normally, the heart will stop beating when a person is dead. However, the researchers found that for a short moment, the deceased person will be aware of what’s going on – fully understanding that their life is over or they’re dead.
Death is pronounced when the heart stops beating and cuts off blood supply to the brain. When this time comes, the brain’s functions come to a halt, hence, it can’t keep the body alive anymore.
So, after the heart stops beating, the person will still know what’s going on. The blood supply to the brain ceases, letting the person lose some brain stem reflexes like the pupil reflex and gag reflex. The thinking part of the brain called cerebral cortex will slowly lose its function.
By this time, the brain waves won’t be detectable in the electric monitor. The brain eventually loses its function with the nerve cells slowly dying.
But, the process can take hours after the heart stopped beating.
The researchers found that survivors of cardiac arrest knew what was going on in their surroundings while they were “dead” before being revived. In fact, many survivors remembered hearing they were pronounced dead by doctors.
Dr Sam Parnia studies consciousness after death. He studied people who had cardiac arrest in the United States and Europe. The study showed that during the first phase of death, some people experienced some form of consciousness. In fact, survivors described their experience.
Dr. 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.”
The researchers want to know how long the brain works after a cardiac arrest or the heart stopped beating.
This way, they will have an idea of how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) properly, and how long will it take for the brain to become damaged. As a result, better guidelines for rescue will be drafted.
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