Your brain knows when you’ve just died, researchers say

Researchers at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine said in an interview that people who’ve temporarily died are aware that their life has ended, and might be able to hear a doctor announcing their death.

Scientists at the New York City school told the Independent newspaper that they’re studying patients who’ve suffered cardiac arrest but have been revived. These doctors say some survivors recall vivid conversations that went on around them — even several minutes after they were pronounced dead.

The paper defined death as the stage where the heart no longer beats and “blood flow to the brain” cuts off. Live Science reported that the cerebral cortex also slows down instantly and within two to 20 seconds flatlines.

“You lose all your brain stem reflexes,” Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation at the school, told the paper. “Your gag reflex, your pupil reflex, all that is gone.”

The evidence reportedly suggests a surge of brain activity immediately after a near-death experience.

“What tends to happen is that people who’ve had these very profound experiences may come back positively transformed — they become more altruistic, more engaged with helping others. They find a new meaning to life having had an encounter with death,” Parnia said. “But there isn’t like a sudden magical enhancement of their memories,” he added. “That’s just Hollywood jazz.”

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