Let’s look at the first of four scientific studies of near death experiences that provide crucial light, and significant, verifiable evidence on the survival of human consciousness after clinical death.

Scientific studies of Near Death Experiences

There are many other careful studies that corroborate and extend their findings not explicitly discussed in this article, but are important for readers interested in more extensive research. The following studies are fully cited in the References to this book: Basford 1990, Fenwick & Fenwick 1995, Greyson & Flynn 1984, Roberts & Owen 1988, Sabom 1982, and Zaleski 1987.

Dr. Bruce Greyson and Dr. Emily Kelly have made longitudinal studies of near death phenomena (with control groups) at the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies (in the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine) which is partially dedicated to the scientific study of near death experiences.

The Parnia-Southampton University Study (2014)

In 2014, scientists under the direction of Dr. Sam Parnia at Southampton University completed the largest scientific study of near death experiences.

It was a 4-year study of 2,060 patients who had suffered cardiac arrest in hospitals in the U.S., U.K., and Austria. The researchers found that 9% of the survivors (185 patients) had a near death experience, though many more—an additional 30% (618 patients) had some sense of postmortem consciousness and feelings which did not meet the full description of an NDE (see above, Section l).

Some of the patients (who had an NDE) maintained visual awareness for up to three minutes after cardiac arrest – long after the brain shuts down (occurring 20-30 seconds after cardiac arrest).

This study advanced those of van Lommel, Ring, and Holden by taking account of experiential markers showing how long patients maintain awareness after clinical death (after electrical activity in the brain is almost completely absent).

For example, a patient reported hearing two “bleeps” from a machine that sounds in 3-minute intervals, revealing that he maintained awareness for more than three minutes after cardiac arrest.

This patient was not only aware of sounds in the room, but was also able to accurately report with heightened visual acuity what was going on in the operating room. The events reported were verified by researchers after resuscitation.

In our next post we will discuss the second of the four studies — the van Lommel et al Study — and its significant contributions to the topic of near-death experiences.

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