It ain't over til it's over, and even then…we're not so sure. No, really! A new study from the NYU Langone School of Medicine suggests that the consciousness may still be active for a time after a body is declared physically dead.
In other words, it might be possible for people to hear they're about to head to the morgue. The study looked at people who had been declared dead and then brought back. Researchers say that around 40% said they remained somewhat aware while a tiny percentage said they could hear full conversations.
While all brain function pretty much stops immediately when blood flow stops, this study and another 2013 study involving mice suggests that there could be residual brain activity for a short time after death.
"In the same way that a group of researchers might be studying the qualitative nature of the human experience of 'love', for instance, we're trying to understand the exact features that people experience when they go through death,” Dr. Sam Parnia explains. “Because we understand that this is going to reflect the universal experience we're all going to have when we die.”