The idea that someone may see their life flashing before their eyes just prior to death might actually have some truth to it – that is at least according to researchers at Hadassah University in Jerusalem who analyzed the accounts of seven people who had reported having near-death experiences.
Rather than seeing their life played back in chronological order like a movie however, the study participants had instead recalled events from their life in a more disjointed fashion.
“There is not a linear progression, there is lack of time limits,” one of them wrote. “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 researchers believe that these experiences could be caused by the parts of the brain responsible for storing memories such as the prefrontal and parietal cortices.
These regions are typically less prone to the effects of blood and oxygen deprivation and tend to continue functioning until most of the other areas of the brain have shut down.
“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,” the team wrote.
“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.”