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Near Death: Why Does Our Life Flash Before Our Eyes?

Stairway to heavenScientists are continuing to study the phenomenon of near death experiences with their latest research involving an analysis of people who experienced flashbacks from their life as they neared the point of death.

The Telegraph is reporting on the study conducted by researchers at Hadassah University in Jerusalem which analyzed seven accounts of flashback experiences which were obtained from in-depth interviews with people who had near death experiences. These interviews were then used to devise a questionnaire which was sent to 264 people.

Those involved in the study said they lost all sense of time, with memories coming back to them from all different periods in their lives. This defies Hollywood depictions of people having flashback experiences that occur in chronological order.

As one respondent explained: "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.”

This bears a remarkable resemblance to the Biblical description: “ . . . [W]ith the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)

Respondents also commonly experienced extreme emotional events which were perceived from the other person’s point of view.

One respondent said: "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.”

Another 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.”

As the Telegraph reports, “Every person in the study said they were left with a new perspective on their life events and on significant people in their lives.”

Researchers believe that the phenomenon could be caused by parts of the brain that store autobiographic memories such as the prefrontal, medial temporal and parietal cortices. These are the last brain functions to suffer from oxygen and blood loss.

The study, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, concludes: "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.

"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.”