We often wonder what is in store in the afterlife. This curiosity may not be new but some are really seeking answers to what goes on in the body once a person dies, especially when it comes to the brain area.

Fortunately, a study from the critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City is a step closer in shedding some light on the state of the brain after death. According to The Sacramento Bee, NYU Langone School of Medicine’s critical care and resuscitation research director Dr. Sam Parnia, and his team, are looking into the brain activity when a person dies.

The study

Does the brain remain conscious and aware even after death? When the heart stops and ceases to pump blood throughout the body, cells start to suffocate and die. However, this process takes a little longer before all cells in the body truly die, meaning there’s a possibility that a person could still be conscious and aware that he’s dead after he dies.

By looking into patients who have suffered cardiac arrests, Parnia said that his team is making an effort “to understand the exact features that people experience when they go through death.” In fact, the researchers found substantial evidence that people who experienced the first phase of death showed some signs of consciousness.

According to Parnia, people whose hearts stopped and restarted following the administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) were able to describe “accurate and verified” recollections of conversations or of visual things that transpired and should not be known to them. Those accounts were also verified by medical and nursing staff who were present at the time when the patients were technically dead, Live Science reported.

Similar research

This is not the first time that Parnia investigated the pervasiveness of consciousness after death. In a 2014 study, his team found that almost 40 percent of the patients who experienced cardiac arrest have Conscious awareness even if their hearts had stopped.

When the heart stopped beating, Parnia explained that conscious awareness continued for up to three minutes.

This phenomenon happened even though the brain normally shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has ceased to beat, reports The Telegraph.

Not true awareness

Despite the recent findings, some experts consider the conscious awareness during Near-death experiences, not a “true awareness.” In a National Geographic report, the publication pointed out that the awareness experienced is a “surge of activity in the brain that comes from a lack of oxygen,” which is otherwise known as hypoxia.

With that said, the argument remains that if one knows that he is dead, then that person is really not dead. According to University of Kentucky neurologist Kevin Nelson, these are “not return-from-death experiences” because the brain is “alive and active.”

New meaning to life

Meanwhile, Parnia said that people who had near-death experiences become “more altruistic, more engaged with helping others,” adding that they tend to find a new meaning to life. However, Parnia stressed that near-death experiences do not mean that their memories are magically enhanced, Fox News noted.