New Study of NDEs May Show That Our Lives Do Flash Before Our Eyes

Image credit: iStock

Image credit: iStock

A new study by doctors at Hadassah University in Jerusalem seems to show that the memories we collect over a lifetime do indeed play out at the end of our lives.  The study suggests that these memories do not play out in chronological order, but instead come in a random sequence or seemingly all at once.

"There is not a linear progression, there is lack of time limits... It was like being there for centuries. I was not in time/space," wrote one study participant.  "A moment, and a thousand years... both and neither. It all happened at once, or some experiences within my near-death experience were going on at the same time as others, though my human mind separates them into different events." 

Another startling symptom of this phenomena is extreme emotion.  Participants relayed how the memories they received during the experience were of severe emotional significance.  These emotional experiences often allowed the observer to 'feel' the emotions of the other people in their memories.

“I could individually go into each person and I could feel the pain that they had in their life … I was allowed to see that part of them and feel for myself what they felt,” said one participant.

Another participant said "I was seeing, feeling these things about him [my father], and he was sharing with me the things of his early childhood and how things were difficult for him."

Researchers believe the phenomenon of life review experiences may be linked to the parts of the brain that are not susceptible to oxygen and blood loss, such as the prefrontal, medial temporal, and parietal cortices.  These parts of the brain store autobiographical memories, and due to their nature would be among the last parts of the brain to cease functioning at death.

"Re-experiencing one's own life-events, so-called LRE, is a phenomenon with well-defined characteristics, and its sub-components may be also evident in healthy people," concludes the study, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.  "This suggests that a representation of life-events as a continuum exists in the cognitive system, and may be further expressed in extreme conditions of psychological and physiological stress."

The study seemingly contradicts long-held spiritual beliefs regarding near death and life review experiences, but fails to explain precisely why the most emotionally significant events are reviewed, the extreme empathy shown during the experience, and the nonsequential ordering of the memories.     

Tobias Wayland