We all know the narrative: fictional storytelling has long showed a person’s last breaths filled with life-spanning flashbacks — a slideshow grand finale of sorts.
According to new studies, that idea is no longer the stuff of story books. Based on the accounts of seven people who shared detailed near-death experiences, and similar surveys from 264 others, many report seeing various scenes from their life play out before their eyes.
These memories are vivid and rarely fall in chronological order. Reportedly, these scenes often take place from another’s perspective.
The researchers, from Hadassah University in Jerusalem, are calling it Life Review Experience (LRE). They’ve hypothesized that the phenomenon may be caused by parts of the brain that stores memories of ourselves which, the team says, are one of the last parts of the brain affected by a lack of oxygen and blood loss.
According to The Telegraph, one participant involved in the study said it felt like a loss of space and time. “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 so this question also feels impossible to answer.
“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.”
The study concludes that “psychological and physiological stress” could lead to such experiences when a person is close to death.
“Re-experiencing one’s own life events, so-called LRE, is a phenomenon with well-defined characteristics, and its subcomponents may be also evident in healthy people,” the authors wrote.
“This suggests that a representation of life events as a continuum exists in the cognitive system, and maybe further expressed in extreme conditions of psychological and physiological stress.”
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