Update on status of AWARE II
Just a quick update on the AWARE study. I recently contacted the study team, and they informed me that the study opened and began recruiting on May 1st 2015. I asked for an updated protocol, but they are being a bit cagey about specifics at the moment, which is pretty understandable (if the exact details were known to outsiders it would be easier to discredit any positive results). What info we do have is available on the UK research website link below. The study is anticipated to run for 2 years. As I have stated before, I have concerns about the exclusion criteria not being broad enough, and that potentially we could see a repeat of AWARE I in which they recruited over 2000 Cardiac Arrests, but only a small minority of these were relevant in terms of providing data. In my view, unless they only include all CA survivors who had the crash cart plus LCD monitors in attendance and were able to complete a post event interview, then they should not be included.
Hopefully they have considered this and are proceeding in a more focused way with their new protocol.
Finally, I know people come here from to time, and are disappointed that new posts are few and far between. As I have explained before, I have a very busy job in research, in addition I write novels in my spare time and this has been the primary focus of my energy of late. I will however attempt to post more thoughts and comments on NDE research as time goes by so sign up for updates so you will be notified when these appear.
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If you don’t mind my asking, what is the nature of your research job, and do you personally know the AWARE study team?
Have you ever asked them about the brain oxygen suggestions?
I work as a medical scientist in HIV. My background was in medicinal chemistry, but now I focus mostly on clinical science. One part of my role is to help medical and basic science researchers develop high quality study proposals. Another part is to critique and present clinical and scientific data, so I have a reasonable understanding of biostatistics, and what does and doesn’t constitute high quality study design…if I get it wrong then I am blamed for wasting other peoples time, but if I get it right I can and do bring large sums in research funding to a group.
I don’t know the AWARE research team personally, although I may have bumped into them as I studied in Southampton Uni and knew a few nurses, so went to parties where the medical people were present.
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Thanks for that. Very interesting. I know you’ve said a few comments in previous posts, but do you have further thoughts on the suggested oxygen NDE connection?
I’m not sure they ever suggested there was a connection, but I know that Dr. Parnia states that it would be worth knowing whether there is a link between NDEs and quality of resuscitation techniques, hence the desire to monitor brain oxygen levels.
One of the ways of measuring how well resuscitation is being performed is to measure levels of oxygen in the brain using non-invasive brain oxymetry equipment. The more oxygen being provided, the better the chances the patient will make a full recovery. Without oxygen (and/or cooling), cells start to die quickly – within minutes. Dr Parnia is one of a number of ER doctors who have worked to pioneer techniques that improve resuscitation outcomes. I think this aspect of the AWARE study has helped it gain support in an otherwise sceptical medical/scientific community.
If levels of oxygen are shown to be higher in patients with NDEs, then the suggestion would be that the presence of consciousness would be indicative of improved survival outcomes. It would not however prove one way or the other that NDEs are a physiological phenomenon as it does not shed any light at all on whether the NDE was produced by the brain, or whether the brain was just better equipped to observe and remember the event.
If you haven’t already read it, I recommend reading Dr. Parnia’s book Erasing Death.
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Thanks for that. I’ve only just read this reply!
Seems obvious now, but I never really thought of the oxygenation question like that. I.e. As you say, the team not looking for a link between NDE and oxygen, but rather recollection of the NDE and oxygenation.
That’s a nicely worded paragraph you’ve put there.
It’s making me think now about recollection / memory and its importance to consciousness as well as its relationship with brain functionality….
You are worse than me…4 months to reply, I usually manage within a week or two!
Apologies for the long comment here, but I have been musing on this some more. I can’t help thinking that it still sounds to me like a suggestion of some degree of functionality involved at the time of the NDE, as in the observing and remembering. Why suggest any form of physiology in relation to NDE otherwise, given that better oxygen levels are/were already considered to be indicative of improved survival outcomes. To examine this aspect further needs no mention of NDE. The wording used by Dr Parnia and the team is somewhat confusing.
“Perhaps the people who had experiences simply had higher oxygen levels of blood flowing into the brain and hence oxygen delivery.”
“It is possible that patients who are able to recount these experiences may have better patient outcomes in terms of reduced brain damage, improved functional ability and better psychological adjustment to the event. We think that these patients may have had better blood flow to the brain during cardiac arrest, leading to consciousness and activity of the mind.”
UKCRN study outline
To me, it sounds more than suggesting reasons for post experience recall. But, as you say, maybe there is indeed consideration to be given to monitoring the pattern between better recovery and NDEs. A quicker, fuller recovery may possibly mean memories of experiences are not destroyed by, say, further post arrest damage, and therefore are more readily and consciously retrievable later, which then may be seen as a link to higher oxygen levels. This in itself raises further questions like,
Would all or more CA survivors remember experiences if they had higher oxygen levels during resuscitation and therefore better recoveries?
Is NDE then to be considered an expected norm when entering a ‘temporary death’ situation, with lack of more cited recollections put down mainly to less efficient resuscitation?
Have the AWARE team counted on richer post arrest feedback by using oxygen monitoring resuscitation techniques?
I agree, it is right to say that a higher oxygen link is unlikely to reveal any causality, unless such higher oxygen during cardiac arrest can be suggestive of some brain functionality.
The oxygen analysis in studying NDE therefore is not so important, the holy grail of the AWARE study is of course to capture an observed recollection of a unique verifiable event / circumstance. It is the nature of any recollections themselves that will point to causalities or otherwise.
Any recollections that come out of this second phase, and indeed any pattern with better resuscitation, will be interesting, and a step towards further understanding.
Has this blog died, and if yes, is there afterlife?
Lol, not dead, or near death…I am working on a post for October.
I’m glad about that! Keep up the great work. 🙂
First off I would like to say I have NO science background except that I have undergone near 20 surgeries (mostly for musculoskeletal injuries from sports) and that I have a huge interest in the human body and how it works and that I have managed to loose 100 lbs in my life TWICE without help from anybody. But everybody I know describes me as doctor house because I always seem to be “right” about medical problems because I am irrationally logical (as contradictory as that sounds).
The study is looking at this from a purely medical standpoint from what I have gathered, and I have been following it since day one (I was still in high school then believe it or not) because as a kid I had my own unusual experience when I went through a hernia surgery at the age of four, that is still one of my most vivid memories. I “woke up” during surgery but could not move or talk but could see and feel everything that was happening even though my eyes were supposedly fully closed (I don’t believe that was the case obviously) but it got me interested in “out of body” type experiences. The doctors all dismissed my claims because I was a kid and when I was talking to my physiology teacher in high school (who was an actual psyciatrist and licensed physician) he told me that is an actual documented phenomenon.enough about the why. You’ll get my train of thought here in a minute…
The basis of this study is to prove conciousness after death, not life after death, or weather it exists or not. What I feel this study is completely missing is that if we are physically having “out of body” expierences when we temporarily die or go through Cardiac Arrest before being resussitated, maybe the reason so few people can recall the experience, is that our counciousness is no longer attatched to our brain.
I’m speaking in hypothetical mind you, but maybe the missing link is that something happening, like some sort of chemical reaction, that is detatching our electrical activity/energy from our neural pathways in order to remove our energy from our body. I heard an unusual story on the discovery channel about a person who died and had remembered their out of body experience as being a pleasurable expierence, and feeling an overwhelming sense of comfort.
Just using my irrational logic, hypothetically assuming that they are actually having these types of expierences and applying said expierence to the equation, maybe the missing link in the aware study is the brain in general and the fact that our brain physically governs our emotions and feelings. Maybe what is happening, is these people are simply disconnecting from the brain at a level where the portions of the brain that govern our logical emotions (yes another condtradiction, but I’m saying logical because it’s not logical to feel pleasure or comfort if you know your dying).
The question then becomes, how the HELL do we quantify this? Well i honestly don’t know that we can. I do have one idea though. A farady cage with a system of sensors to measure electromagnetic changes in the operating/trauma/emergency rooms.
Maybe this could physically remove another variable from the equation. If our consciousness in not attached to our brain, how is it possible that we would be able to record the expierience into our memory (since our brain is supposedly like a biological computer)? It just seems to me that the sturdy is missing a couple key ingriedients to the entire equation and leaving too much room for error.
Allowing for a faraway cage with electromagnetic sensor relays in the rooms where the patients have cardiac arrest would seem to remove another possible set of variables while allowing for another possible set of quantifiable data results.
Again I’m no scientist. I don’t even have a degree in anything, just a bunch of fireams armorers certifications, executive protection training and other stuff in that industry (i am an executive protection agent, thought I would leave that info for the end), but I do have a good logical sense of what this study is trying to accomplish and a vested interest in the outcome.
Great comments Spencer, and very interesting. Sounds like you had an NDE or something similar of your own.
You raise a whole load of different questions and ideas, one of which is related to memory and I will be returning to in my next blog post…why do only 10% either remember or experience an NDE. Your question about how can someone remember an NDE if their consciousness has detached from the brain, and therefore our understood mechanisms for creating memories are not able to function is at the heart of all the questions around NDEs and OBEs. Namely, is consciousness a function of physical processes generated in the brain, or is the brain just a physical host for a consciousness that is able to function and exist independently? If the latter is the case, then presumably memory may also be able to exist independently. In fact many “researchers” in this area have suggested that all memories are a pooled resource “archived” in some celestial data warehouse. Sounds kind of outlandish, but then so does so much else about this subject.
As for a way of measuring changes in electrical charge in an ER room, I admit to being a little ignorant on how a Faraday cage works exactly, but wouldn’t all the background noise generated by medical equipment, especially a defribrillator, make minor changes impossible to detect?
Anyway, thanks again for the comments, and look out for my next post which is incoming shortly…I must warn you it will be very unscientific though.
Your research is amazing. Keep it up, also I sure that my current OBE, NDE from Grady Memorial Hospital Atlanta Ga Feb 26, 2017 USA, is going to be a challenge for your Aware II study