Recent scientific studies reveal that we might know we're dead after we die. Our consciousness and awareness linger on after our heart stops pumping blood to our brains. The implications of such a finding are not only terrifying but re-define consciousness in a philosophical way and death in a medical and scientific sense.
The findings come on the heels of scientific studies that followed patient's who were resuscitated after near-death. The patients were able to recall the specific actions of doctors and nurses bring them back to life.
The idea that we are aware of our own death after it happens can be unsettling for many. It's like being trapped in a coffin while you're still alive. Our other functions stop, and our brains can no longer voluntarily control our actions. Nonetheless, perhaps one of the most defining characteristics of being still lingers - and that's our ability to perceive our being. Only, we actually perceive the onset of our non-being because your brain still works after you die. It's a lot to think about, isn't it?
The Great Debate Around Near-Death Experiences
The near-death experience has caused much debate in recent science. Many people who have experienced a near-death moment have described not only a sensation of floating and reunion with family but also a degree of awareness. Science has traditionally explained this phenomenon as a physical experience that coincides with a dying brain. It's the neurochemical response to the trauma caused by a brain deprives of blood and oxygen. Nonetheless, science has continued to dig for better answers, as countless numbers of near-death experiences seem remarkably similar.
Our Bodies Shut Down Gradually, Not All At Once
Speaking to Newsweek, Dr. Sam Parnia went into detail on the state of cells within our bodies, following death. He stated that the cells in our bodies don't automatically shut down following our death, but rather they gradually move towards a "death" of their own. He went on to say,
I’m not saying the brain still works, or any part of you still works once you’ve died. But the cells don’t instantly switch from alive to dead. Actually, the cells are much more resilient to the heart stopping—to the person dying—than we used to understand.
And as it turns out, our cells are not only gradually shutting down, it's possible they're multiplying according to Peter Noble, a microbiology professor at the University of Washington. When conducting research on both mice and zebrafish, he found that cells were actually growing in number following the subjects death.
We didn’t anticipate that, Noble told Newsweek. Can you imagine, 24 hours after [time of death] you take a sample and the transcripts of the genes are actually increasing in abundance? That was a surprise.
This gradual shutdown could certainly help to validate the claim that we're somewhat conscious following our own demise.
Scientists Suggest That Consciousness Might Survive Death
Researchers in New York recently moved closer to answering the question of what happens after we die. Well, at least they came close to answering the question of what happens after we die in the immediate sense. The team of researchers found that while the heart stops, the brain continues to function slightly. Specifically, the part of the brain that keeps functioning after death is the part which is responsible for consciousness. This finding is significant in that we get to experience our deathbed objectively even though we can't interact or function otherwise.
But What Is Consciousness?
Consciousness in the most simplest of definitions is awareness. However, the neuroscience behind awareness is not well understood, (at least not as well understood as neuroscientists would like). The human brain has billions interacting neurons, which compute information. When our human brain absorbs and computes information that we take in, some scientists believe this is the phenomena of consciousness. Your heart pumps blood to the rest of your body, including the brain, so that it can function.