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

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NYU Langone School of Medicine researchers led by Dr. Sam Parnia are behind this study.

New research at a highly regarded US medical school suggests that some patients may retain awareness after their hearts have stopped and they are declared dead.

Death just became even more scary: scientists say people are aware they're dead because their consciousness continues to work after the body has stopped showing signs of life, reported The Independent.

A team from New York University Langone School of Medicine investigated the very same question through twin studies in Europe and the U.S. of people who have suffered cardiac arrest and "come back" to life, in the largest study of its kind. "And the evidence reveals that people whose heart stopped and then restarted - usually on the operating table - could describe exactly what had been happening around them".

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Parnia and his team are using these accounts from people who've been "brought back" to learn more about a odd phenomena that takes place in the brain at the time of death.

"Technically speaking, that's how you get the time of death".

"They'll describe watching doctors and nurses working and they'll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them", he told Live Science.

Dr Parnia and his team continue to investigate the pervasiveness of consciousness after death with twin studies in Europe and the United States who have suffered cardiac arrest, in the largest study of its kind.

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Their accounts of those conversations were then verified by the nursing staff who were present. As blood stops reaching the brain, its functions are also halted nearly instantaneously. The brain's cerebral cortex - which is responsible for thinking and processing information from the five senses - also instantly flatlines.

Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) does send some blood to the brain-about 15 percent of what it requires to function normally, according to Parnia. After the 20 seconds or so that it takes for the brain waves to no longer be detectable, he said, additional cellular processes have to happen that eventually result in brain death.

The New York team hopes the experiences of resuscitated patients will give them the vital clues about what the brain is doing before stops functioning.

Recent studies have shown that animals experience a surge in brain activity in the minutes after death. Reportedly, this is the most extensive study on the matter.

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