WTF Fun Fact 13557 – Lucid Dying

A groundbreaking study spearheaded by NYU Grossman School of Medicine explored the concept of “lucid dying” and dives deeper into what is termed as “lucid death experiences.”

Lucid dying refers to the vivid, clear, and conscious experiences that some cardiac arrest survivors recall having when they were supposedly unconscious. The study involved 567 patients. Fewer than 10% made a sufficient recovery after CPR to leave the hospital. But the survivors had some fascinating stories to share. Four 4 out of every 10 of these survivors remembered experiencing some degree of consciousness during CPR.

What the Brain Shows During Lucid Dying

Advanced brain monitoring techniques provide a more in-depth look into what happens during these moments. For some patients, nearly 40% displayed brain activity reverting to normal, or close to normal, even an hour into CPR from a previously “flatline” state. This was measured using EEG technology, a tool that traces brain activity. These patients exhibited spikes in brain waves linked to higher cognitive functions.

Survivors have historically spoken of heightened awareness and potent, lucid experiences during near-death moments. They’ve described sensations such as detaching from their bodies, painlessly observing events, and conducting profound assessments of their actions and relationships throughout their lives. The study emphasizes that these are not mere hallucinations, delusions, or dreams. Instead, they appear distinct from such states and even differ from CPR-induced consciousness.

Why Does This Happen?

Researchers propose that as the brain approaches a “flatlined” state, its natural inhibitory systems get deactivated. This phenomenon is termed disinhibition.

This might grant access to “new dimensions of reality.” These could include vivid memories spanning one’s entire life, seen through a moral lens. The evolutionary reason behind such experiences remains unknown. Still, the fact that they happen prompts further investigation into the mysteries of the human mind and the event of dying.

Clinical Implications of Lucid Dying

Most doctors believe that the brain endures irreversible damage approximately 10 minutes after the heart stops supplying oxygen. However, this research demonstrates the potential for the brain to show signs of electrical recovery well into the CPR process.

Such findings suggest that these recalled experiences and changes in brain waves could be hallmarks of universal elements in so-called near-death situations.

Dr. Sam Parnia, the lead researcher of the study, had an interesting perspective. He noted, “These experiences provide a glimpse into a real, yet little understood dimension of human consciousness that becomes uncovered with death.”

Such insights could lead to innovative methods to restart the heart. They might also help prevent potential brain injuries, or have implications in transplantation procedures.

The AWARE-II Study

The AWAreness during REsuscitation (AWARE)-II study, involved observing 567 individuals who suffered cardiac arrests during their hospitalizations between 2017 and 2020 across the US and UK. By only enrolling hospitalized patients, the study ensured standardized CPR, resuscitation, and brain activity recording methods. A fraction of these patients, 85 in number, underwent brain monitoring throughout their CPR.

Additionally, the testimonies of 126 survivors from the community who remembered their experiences of death were also scrutinized. These helped provide a broader perspective on the themes tied to the recollection of dying.

The research brings up fascinating new hypotheses about lucid dying. But it neither confirms nor refutes the validity or implications of patients’ experiences and awareness during their brushes with death. However, these experiences surrounding death are deemed worthy of more exhaustive scientific investigation.

Future studies may aim to pinpoint biomarkers of clinical consciousness and observe the prolonged psychological aftermath of being resuscitated post-cardiac arrest.

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Source: “New evidence indicates patients recall death experiences after cardiac arrest” — Science Daily


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