Strongest-Ever Scientific Evidence.

A British scientist studying heart attack patients says he has found evidence that consciousness may continue after the brain has stopped functioning and a patient is clinically dead. This means that science is now confronting the age-old religious questions about the existence of a soul that survives physical death.

During the study, 63 heart attack patients who were clinically dead but were later revived were interviewed within a week of their experiences. 56 said they had no recollection of the time they were unconscious, but seven reported havingmemories. Of those, four were said to have had near-death-experiences, because they reported memories of thinking, reasoning, moving around and communicating with others after doctors had determined their brains were no longer functioning.

?The studies are very significant in that we have a group of people with no brain function ?who have well-structured, lucid thought processes with reasoning and memory formation at a time when their brains are shown not to function,? says Sam Parnia, one of two doctors from Southampton General Hospital in England who have been studying near-death experiences.

?We need to do much larger-scale studies, but the possibility is certainly there? to suggest that consciousness, or the soul, keeps thinking and reasoning even if a person?s heart has stopped, he is not breathing and his brain activity is flat, Parnia says.

He and his colleagues conducted a yearlong study, the results of which appeared in the February issue of the journal Resuscitation. The results were so promising that the doctors have formed a foundation to fund further research on NDEs.

The patients reported remembering feelings of peace, joy and harmony. For some, time sped up, their senses became more acute and they lost awareness of their bodies. They also reported seeing a bright light, entering another realm and communicating with dead relatives. One, who called himself a lapsed Catholic and Pagan, reported a close encounter with a mystical being.

Near-death experiences have been reported for centuries but science has explained them away as a result of low oxygen levels. But when the brain is deprived of oxygen people become totally confused, thrash around and usually have no memories at all, according to Parnia. Also, none of the patients in his study were found to have received low oxygen levels. ?Here you have a severe insult to the brain but perfect memory,? he says.

Skeptics have also suggested that the memories occurred in patients during the moments when they were leaving or returning to consciousness. But Parnia notes that when a brain is traumatized by a seizure or car wreck a patient generally does not remember moments just before or after losing consciousness.

Instead, there is usually a memory lapse of hours or days. ?Talk to them. They?ll tell you something like: ?I just remember seeing the car and the next thing I knew I was in the hospital,?? he says. ?With cardiac arrest, the insult to the brain is so severe it stops the brain completely. Therefore, I would expect profound memory loss before and after theincident.?

Since their initial experiment, Parnia and his team have found more than 3,500 people with lucid memories that apparently occurred at times they were thought to be clinically dead. Many of the patients, he said, were reluctant to share their experiences fearing they would be thought crazy.

One patient was 2-1/2 years old when he had a seizure and his heart stopped. His parents contacted Parnia after the boy ?drew a picture of himself as if out of his body looking down at himself. It was drawn like there was a balloon stuck to him. When they asked what the balloon was he said, ?When you die you see a bright light and you are connected to a cord.? He wasn’t even 3 when had the experience,? Parnia says. ?What his parents noticed was that after he had been discharged from hospital, six months after the incident, he kept drawing the same scene.?

Parnia speculates that human consciousness may work independently of the brain. ?When you damage the brain or lose some of the aspects of mind or personality, that doesn’t necessarily mean the mind is being produced by the brain. All it shows is that the apparatus is damaged,? Parnia said, adding that further research might reveal the existence of a soul.

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