Life review experiences or LREs, for short, are some of the most common themes explored and, sometimes, overly explored, by Hollywood. Scientists have long struggled to determine what goes on in the mind of someone who’s at death’s doorstep, but the answer has eluded them for some time. A new study performed by the University of Jerusalem reveals that the Hollywoodian perspective on life review experiences may not be entirely fictitious.
Life review experiences is the scientific term of that expression known in the common tongues as “life flashing before your eyes.” As a movies buff, you have, more than likely, seen this type of scenario – the protagonist is on the brink of death, and in a split second, he seen his entire life experience dancing before his eyes.
The scientific community has always been skeptical regarding life review experiences but did not refute its existence. It’s a well-known fact that when our brain runs out of oxygen, it can induce powerful visual and auditory hallucinations. During this in-between phase, patients reported seeing religious figures or having extra-corporeal experiences.
As to the assumption that on the brink of death you will relieve your whole life, a team of scientists from the University of Jerusalem declared that it holds half-truths.
The study, which was recently published in Consciousness and Cognition journal, states that the subject may relieve past experiences or rather emotion associated with past experiences, but there is no sense of temporality.
Despite the fact that in fiction life review experiences appear to have an inherent chronological structure (subject experiences all memories and emotions from the time of birth until the bitter end), in real life, the scientists have discovered that this process can only be described as a cacophony.
By studying several accounts of patients who underwent an LRE, the scientists have discovered that, in the last moments of life, as the brain runs out of oxygen, the recipient is simultaneously bombarded that hundreds if not thousands of images, sounds, and sensations. Furthermore, the team stated that these flashes are not chronologically ordered since the brain becomes unable to perceive time.
Some of the accounts studied by the team stated that some patients were able to leave their body and see through the eyes of their loved ones. On the other hand, other patients had religious experiences – seeing white lights and another type of signals which the brain fails to interpret.
However, the scientists ended their paper by saying that more research needs to be done in order to discover what goes on in someone’s brain at the moment of death.
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