Evolving news on the science, writing and thinking about Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

AWARE II – preliminary results

Once again thanks to Samwise for posting these in the comments section (I’m starting to have  suspicions about who he really is!). The link below is to the abstract from a poster by Sam Parnia that was – correction – will be presented at a meeting of the AHA in a few days ago time which focuses on resuscitation. The abstract has been posted on line in advance of the meeting, so this really is hot of the press.

Link to AWARE II poster abstract

On first analysis, the news is not brilliant in  terms of conclusive proof that NDEs are proven to be real, or at least not what we might be hoping for (edited to add: I may have got this completely wrong in my haste to post – please read the fantastic analysis by Tim in the comments section – if he is right then this data is very significant and is the first scientific evidence of auditory OBEs). However, on closer inspection, there is a small ray of light and also it is important to note that the numbers of this sample from the study are extremely small, and the study is still ongoing.

So, to the results (most of us know the methods – people who have had a CA are exposed to various stimuli, including the upturned ipad, during CPR, to understand consciousness while the brain is effectively “dead”):

Results: Among 465 in-hospital CA lasting >5 min, 44 (9%) survived and 21 were interviewed. Of these, 4 (19%) reported explicit memories, including (internal) cognitive processes such as feeling peace, joy, and a perception of seeing relatives, while other memories were suggestive of (external) awareness e.g. hearing people talking, drugs given. One of 19 correctly recalled the audio stimuli given during CPR, but none identified the visual test. In this limited sample, there were no signs of implicit learning. We then compared these to 22 self-reported memories from a registry of CA survivors, Additional themes emerged as follows: 1) a sense of joy and peace (95%), perception of a light (86%), a tunnel (59%), a review and judgment of major life events including a person’s own actions and intentions (54%), and an overall feeling of positive transformation after the event (95%).

Key points to take away:

  • No iPad visual hits – no smoking gun that we have all been waiting for
  • 1 audio hit – a slightly warm gun?
  • There were only 21 interviews, and only 4 who could recall any memories from the time during CPR – this is an extremely small sample

So there we have it, once again Dr Parnia used an AHA meeting to announce some preliminary results from one of his AWARE studies. The last one was in 2014 if I recall. There is a sense of déjà vu in more ways than one though. We don’t have an iPad (visual) hit, but at the same time the numbers involved were so small that it would be extremely unlikely for there to be a visual hit. Remember, about 10% of CA survivors have NDEs and about 25% of those have an OBE of some sort. In this sample size there were 21 interviews, 4 of whom had memories (how many of these were NDEs by the Greyson scale is not mentioned). Assuming 2 were NDEs, there was a 50% chance of an OBE. From this brief abstract, it appears no one claimed to have an OBE, which would be consistent with expectations.

The audio hit is interesting, but I know the skeptics will discount this out of hand. However, if the EEG was flat-lining, and there was no heartbeat at the time-point the audio was played, then this does provide the first true “scientific” evidence that NDEs are real. But it won’t be received that way.

The conclusion section closes with this comment:

In this context, in place of NDE a more appropriate term might be transformative experience of death (TED)

Well I’m not sure what to make of this. AWARE II is still ongoing, and I know many of us here were convinced that he may have had some positive iPad hits by the way he has been discussing the whole “nature of consciousness being a separate entity to the brain” in public, but there is nothing in these results to give rise to such confidence. Also…what’s with TED?

I suspect there will be lots of discussion! Remember, he is presenting next Monday at NYU and a live-stream is available. I’m sure he will elaborate further then.


Link to NYU event

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57 thoughts on “AWARE II – preliminary results

  1. Anton Efimov on said:

    What does it mean an audio hit? What kind of audio stimuli is meant in this case? If it’s stimuli from headphones and a person had an OBE he should not have heard anything as he is « out of his body » and should no hear what is only heard by his ears. Or are we talking about other kind of stimuli?


    • On the NYU research website it only mentions audio stimuli, but I do remember that he elaborated in one of his talks and that it did include headphone and various things being played. Hopefully he will give more detail on Monday, which immediately follows his presentation at AHA.

      On your point about OBEs, no one had an OBE…but I get what you are saying. There is not much detail about what other “memories” this patient had. Again, I think we will have to wait until Monday to fill these gaps in.


      • Anton Efimov on said:

        Yeah we need details on that. Also we need to understand whether he had oxygen in the brain and whether the EEG was flat. If it was so, and he didn’t have an OBE, just perception and heard the audio stimuli via headphones, it still shouldn’t disprove the separate existence of mind/body. Like he was still inside the body, the body being dead, but physically he was close to the source of stimuli so he heard it…
        But this is pure speculation, so we do have to wait till Monday


    • I stand by my idea that there will not be any hits.

      If somebody heard the stimuli given in the headphones, this further damages the reality of OBEs.


  2. Admiral on said:

    How are you guys interpreting the audio stimuli? I initially interpreted it as a positive sign for the reality of ndes due to my perception that a patient heard a sound that he should have been incapable of hearing. A few of the posts on here seem to have the reverse interpretation?


  3. No surprises really… as someone who is skeptical about separation between mind and body, I did not expect any visual hits. But a study like this doesn’t prove or disprove anything.

    But I thought results of aware 2 would only be announced next year, or even in 2021?


  4. This is more or less what I expected (no visual hits) because of the (literally) miniscule numbers surviving to discharge and available to be interviewed and I said so several times previously lest anyone think I’m looking for excuses; I’m not.

    Now to the interesting bit. This is a tightly controlled (I assume) study so any data
    harvested is very important. One person out of 19 (in cardiac arrest) heard the stimuli from the (ear) headphones which means that sceptics can claim that their brain must have been working. The vast majority, 95%, did not, though, which strongly supports previous contentions.

    95% / 18 persons in cardiac arrest DIDN’T hear the stimuli but some did hear EXTERNAL sounds such as talking and what drugs were given. So by my reasoning, that means that some persons (up to 4 or less of course) with headphones on (receiving stimuli) heard external sounds but did NOT hear the sound closest to their ears, the headphone stimuli.

    So they somehow heard but not with their ears. The report of hearing external sounds surely cannot just be from the single case of someone hearing the audio stimuli. You can’t hear both–in theory anyway–so it must have been another patient and that patient must have had awareness when their brains were not working, otherwise they would have heard the audio stimuli from their headphones.

    Interesting also, is his mention of the NDE’rs reporting feelings of peace and joy and being transformed. Why would they be transformed by going through the process of death if death is the end ? The patients that didn’t have NDE’s suffered PTSD. Clearly, the NDErs discovered through their experience that death isn’t the end of them, or is that unreasonable to assume ? I don’t see why, myself, it’s been well documented in many other studies.

    Lastly, if out of body experiences are some kind of “retrospective confabulation” of some sort (which sceptics insist they must be) why have these NDErs not confabulated at least ONE on the basis of hearing external sounds ?

    That’s what the sceptics have been trying to tell us for years. Patients hear sounds and then go on to imagine themselves out of their bodies.

    Well if that was the case, it seems very odd that no one confabulated an OBE in this study (which is still ongoing we have to remember). Let’s hope, as Ben says that Parnia will help us out with a proper analysis of what these preliminary results mean. And we’re clearly going to need much bigger studies if 4500 five hundred cardiac arrests (with 465 recruited and 44 survived to discharge) only produced 4 NDErs.

    Cue the brick bats 😉


    • Anton Efimov on said:

      Actually I really liked you arguments, Tim. You make a good point that the majority not hearing the headphones but hearing people talking, like with Pam Reynolds is actually a good sign


      • @Anton

        Thanks ! I’ve read the rest of the comments on here and I think there’s a misunderstanding of how this experiment is being conducted. (Apologies for repeating myself )

        Parnia has to come at this from a “null hypothesis” meaning the team are not (officially) expecting to find anything out of the ordinary with respect to awareness/experience and how the brain (doesn’t) work during cardiac arrest.

        Lets assume that the audio cue WAS fed directly into their ears (And I do think that’s what is being done) Parnia told us just that recently (quote) “The tablet gives off audio/visual stimuli that are transmitted to the patient through a wireless headphone”

        In 95% of the cases (18 patients) no one physically heard that cue (when they were in cardiac arrest) which is exactly what Parnia would have (officially) expected. Parnia has always said the brain stops functioning after cardiac arrest so here we have the proof)
        One case DID hear the stimuli so that person’s brain must have been functioning which probably means his heart was in a different rhythm than VF or asystole (no movement), obviously we don’t know but it’s an outlier.

        But he’s also told us that conversations WERE heard. So how could conversations be “heard” when the ears/brain are not working and they had headphones on emitting stimuli that they didn’t hear ? The only thing they should have heard was the audio stimuli that was being fed into their ears.

        So, that amounts to awareness when the brain isn’t working and was isolated (with headphones) or in one case when the brain was simply isolated.

        As for the lack of identification of the ipad image it’s disappointing of course but we don’t even know if there was a full blown out of body experience. 4 patients (with NDE) is nowhere near enough to test that adequately even with “the mountain coming to Mohammed”.

        On the positive side it seems that important data has been collected. Looking at the downside, the numbers are just so miniscule (4 harvested NDE’s out of over 4500 original CA’s) it almost beggars belief, but it’s no one’s fault; this is simply an incredibly difficult study to carry out. Furthermore Dr Parnia deserves great credit for all his hard work and dedication.

        And at the very least it demonstrates that patients DON’T retrospectively confabulate out of body experiences, otherwise there should have surely been several of them. Or is my reasoning wrong.


    • But if they were indeed out of their bodies how come they didn’t see the ipad? I hoped the 1 in 19 audio was one of those conscious during CPR type because heart wasn’t completely stopped and CPR was giving enough blood, so the person didn’t have enough blood to see things but could hear things.


    • Great analysis Tim. I’m hp[ing Parnia will elaborate on some of this on MOnday.


    • We have to control our vision to be directed to a point of interest in order to see an image on an iPad, but we can’t control our hearing source because signals are coming to us from all directions. Thats why people “heard” voices but no one (yet) saw the image.


      • You make a good point. NDErs do have enhanced vision, but in terms of attention maybe it is focused from the “location” of the conscious . It certainly opens up a philosophical can of worms when you consider the brain clearly has a specific defined location, but can the same said of our conscious once it has left our bodies? If it can then it could be argued that these conscious things are still a product of the physical universe beyond our observable one.


      • For me its all physical. Thousand years ago a thunder was Zeus rage and then it became just an electric current the same one we use to open the lights and we became “Zeus”. I believe that when we die we become pure energy, with consciousness and memories we gain through life, but we need a new material carrier to control experience of life. But who knows, maybe in this new energy realm the experience of life is very different than the material world and we don’t need a body anymore. Maybe there is a whole other world around us and we just can perceive it through our “instruments”.


    • romanos k on said:

      We have to direct our vision to a target in order to see an image on an iPad but we can’t control what we hear because signals come from everywhere to us. That’s why those people only heared voices but didn’t saw the image, at least not yet.


    • Nikhil on said:

      The human eardrum/brain can interpret only a subset of frequencies. Could it be that the audio that was used was not interpreted because the brain was not capable, under the circumstances, to interpret it. However, there was no issue with interpreting frequencies that were part of the conversation?

      What I am trying to say is that distance to the sound source or amplitude/loudness may not be the only parameters to be considered here.


  5. Damn, this is going to give the skeptics some ammo. I can already see the “I told you so” “Of course there are no visual hits” comments coming forward.

    However as Tim mentions if all CA patients had audio stimuli via headphones, it’s interesting that the majority heard conversations and practices going on BUT DIDN’T notice the audio played directly into their ears. If any conversations etc can be verified as accurate this suggests that there must have been some awareness acting independently of at least perception from the ears, unless somehow the stimuli was just not recounted or ignored for whatever reason. This sounds similar to Pam Reynolds hearing a conversation in the operating room despite the clicking in her ears.

    The last statement I heard from Dr Parnia on his position showed no signs of him being on the side of mind/body separation as I’ve seen in some of these comments. Is this actually established? Perhaps I missed a more recent interview.


    • Even when there is a OBE someone has to float in a position against the ceiling where he can see the iPad and correct me if I’m wrong but there was only one IPad is used, no IPad in every corner of the room. Also not everybody with a OBE float against ceiling, some are standing next to the doctors and nurses and some are floating not that high. So I hope it will work out.


      • Agree Rudd and welcome to the site. The whole numbers thing is and always has been an obstacle to success in these studies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah ofc some people might be standing on ground. Thanks for reminding me, hopefully the audio stimuli one here was in that position. Hope parnia will say more about this case on 18th.


  6. The auditory system is as dependant on a functioning brain as visual. It’s very significant since there was no OBE.
    It indicates there just is not time for separation when you have a really good trauma team like Parnias!
    So one hit with no obe. Not surprising with small sample and talented trauma team.

    It’s a hit and we will never please the skeptics
    Unless we can conjure up Sagan in a seance. Spell check wanted to call him Satan. Well I did have the displeasure of meeting him

    And Samwise. Sure is interesting.Thanks as usual Sam.


  7. You don’t have to eat your laptop Orson

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “One of 19 correctly recalled the audio stimuli given during CPR, but none identified the visual test”

    how can they miss the ipad? This is very bad news, unless they started their OBE at the far corner of the room (very rare) there’s no way for the ipad to be out of their sight.


    • Is anyone here on good terms with parnia? If someone is, can you please email him about whether that 1 in 19 correctly recalled audio stimuli was an OBE, or was
      a conscious-during-cpr because he received enough blood (i.e. similar to anaesthetic awareness, can hear things but cant see things), there was such a case posted on here and parnia mentioned he knew about it. I’m very worried about this latest update… if he/she was truly out of his brain then he/she would of seen the ipad. I hope its latter but he didn’t say anything about it.


  9. Don’t panic Chad . We have no idea how this happens. This person should not process audio in a dead brain.


  10. Eduardo on said:

    One thing is that there has been OBE, and another that has not been. If there wasn’t, it shouldn’t surprise you that I didn’t see the I pad target, that’s obvious. It would seem that no one said that he had been looking at his body while they were resuscitating him (at least Parnia does not clarify that in the external awareness report)… On the other hand I guess it was checked that the person who heard the headphones had the flat EEG on that moment …. We must wait for more details and details from Parnía. Anyway, Pim Van Lommel does not believe in the success of visual objectives …


  11. Hi!
    I have been following this blog since last year, and I would really like to thank Ben and everybody for the interesting insights.
    Regarding the audio stimuli, I think there is a general misunderstanding. I read the original abstract, and in the “methods” section it is written:

    “In an ongoing prospective study (AWARE-II) we piloted methods to administer audiovisual stimuli to test implicit and explicit memories using a tablet computer with images and sounds delivered during on-going CPR.”

    So it is the tablet which delivers sounds, no earphones in my opinion. Maybe I’m wrong, but try to imagine an ICU medical team frantically putting earphones on a patient under CA instead of focusing on resuscitation… quite unrealistic, since it’s a completely different situation from Pam Reynolds case where (we all know it) the earphones were previously placed in order to monitor her brain activity.
    Moreover, another patient in Aware I (the”chunky fella” guy ;)) was able to recall an external audio stimuli which was delivered more than three minutes after his CA (or something like that, I should read the paper again).

    Therefore, no panic. On the contrary, I think it is a partial hit, since it corroborates the explicit memory theory (= the patient’s memory is not built upon subconscious knowledge as it for dreams).

    Lastly, don’t forget that this paper was published on a cardiology journal. Of course the average reader’s main interest does not deal with NDEs, OBEs or consciousness as we mean it, but mostly with cognitive aspects related to cardiocirculatory issues. A research team has to adapt its findings to the context, that’s why (or at least, I think so) they put the “TDE” thing – writing as well “in this context”.

    No panic!


  12. On other occasions it was said that a team “pagers” of participating researchers will be alerted and sent to resuscitation rooms with backpacks with portable brain oxygen monitoring devices and a portable EEG to measure if the brain is functioning. In addition, wireless headphone patients will be inserted, through which random words and sounds will be transmitted and I pads will be placed facing up.
    I ask, because I am not sure about it. In all cases of these 21 interviewees did the “pager” team arrive to place the I pad and so on?


  13. Some great early thoughts from people here. I have a few niggles and will send questions to Dr Parnia (Chad sent one via email, and I will include that). But one very important observation:

    The numbers. These are the same recruitment numbers that were reported earlier this year. This is partly a function of the fact that abstracts need to be submitted many months before a convention, but there is another issue I have with this. The numbers that Dr Parnia presented at NYU rounds earlier this year, were not much changed from the previous year despite ongoing recruitment and additional sites being added. My personal feeling is that this data is quite old. I don’t know what that means. Is this study being abandoned despite the site saying that they are still recruiting, or is something else going on? I go into this into a lot of detail on a June post:

    The other aspect of the numbers is that they appear to be including patients that had a CA but didn’t survive long enough to be interviewed. I hope that key inclusion criteria is that they were interviewed, otherwise this would once again cause the study to fail. They need a high sample number of completed interviews of CA patients who had the iPad in the room.


    • Thanks for the kind words, Ben !

      The conclusion from the abstract states :

      (Conclusion): External awareness and internal cognitive activity may occur during CA.

      > External awareness (including memory formation obviously) (may) occur(s) DURING cardiac arrest when the person is effectively dead. That has got to be a significant statement, surely ? How can you have external awareness without a functioning brain ?

      Remember what sceptics have always insisted. It can’t occur DURING cardiac arrest, it MUST occur just before… or just after. As you say, let’s hope Parnia can shed some light on this.


    • Eduardo on said:

      En el Aware I los datos recopilados fueron hasta 31 de diciembre de 2012 y se informaron el 7 de octubre de 2014. Fijate en el informe de resucitación..


    • Tim, they might mean good CPR is causing the awareness during CA, exploring possible connection between oxygen delivery and mental process during CA is one of their goals (they stated this multiple times). Problem with awareness during CA is precisely this, im more looking forward to the pam reynold type experiment with actually NO BLOOD inside their brain, im getting paranoid about blood flow no matter how small.

      Good point Ben, i also think there’s a lag between published results in academic journals and what Parnia knows right now. Let’s hope one of the explanations people here offered for this audio stimuli case about why he didn’t see the ipad is true.

      I was cleaning my email and happened on a reply from Greyson when I asked him about Al Sullivan. I remember someone asking me about his case before, this is what Greyson said when i raised the possibility of Al seeing Takata flapping his arm right when anaethestics were given and before his eyes were taped:

      “He said he saw two other doctors cutting on his leg, which surprised him because he was told they would be operating on his heart. What he saw was the doctors stripping a vein from his leg to be used to create a bypass around the blocked vessels to his heart. And that fact places his out-of-body vision without question during the time when he was deeply anesthetized.”

      ofc a skeptic argument is he saw arm flapping right before eyes were taped, during a time when due to anaesthetics his memory of that moment would of been “abnormal”, and he watched shows of similar heart surgery so together with the abnormal memory he somehow merged his tv shows with that memory. But this is very unlikely, just like for pam reynolds its not air tight but skeptic explanations are very unlikely.


  14. A 1 included those who died or were too sick to be interviewed. I too suspect this is old . Correct audio memory during no brain activity is a hit.
    It’s better than the data that got dark energy the Nobel.


  15. Eduardo on said:

    Tim brilliant your analysis !! only that if 21 were interviewed there were 20 who did not listen to the sounds transferred by the headphones. Although the report of the article says for me wrongly 19 (was confused with 19 percent.).


    • @Eduardo Thanks! I think the importance of that experiment is that it has shown (almost conclusively) that the brain, including the brain stem, doesn’t function during cardiac arrest, which is what Parnia and others such as Van Lommel and Peter Fenwick have been telling us all along.

      Haven’t sceptics always insisted that “hearing” is the last sense to go and that we can never be sure that someone didn’t hear a conversation with their physical ears (during cardiac arrest) and then use that to create an image in their mind which they then come to believe was an out of body experience ? Sceptics have been confidently saying this for forty years. They surely won’t be as confident now.

      In this case, the stimuli was RIGHT NEXT TO THEIR EARS so if their hearing was somehow still working (during cardiac arrest), how could they miss it? 95% heard nothing. There is of course the one person who did hear it so we do need more information on that patient.

      Nevertheless, I’m sure sceptics WILL focus on the one person that DID hear. It’s a straw that they won’t be able to resist clutching at. And I understand that.

      Overall, I agree with Ben. ” …. this question will never be >scientifically< settled until the NDE/OBE “hypothesis” has been verified or falsified." And it's going to take years and much more funding to do that. (I would like to know why some of the other 23 patients out of the 44 couldn't have been interviewed maybe we'll find out)


      • That’s right Tim. You can’t hear something without a brain stem.It’s a hit.
        Have we ever heard from the sceptics why hearing is a magical last sense in a nonfunctional brain. ?


  16. Something else that is niggling me is the fact that Dr Parnia repeatedly said that no results would be released until the study had fully recruited in 2020. So why present this Now, unless it is just peripheral data.

    For me this question will never be scientifically settled until the NDE/OBE “hypothesis” has been verified or falsified. Namely – “If OBEs are proven to be true then by inference NDEs are real.” This question will never be Properly answered until a study is completed that is sufficiently powered to answer it…namely have sufficient numbers of CA survivor INTERVIEWS from survivors who were in an ER room with the right kit present during CPR (iPad etc).

    Given that 10% have NDEs and 25% of those report OBEs, you would need in excess of 100 interviews, ideally 4-500. 400 interviews should give a reasonable chance of 10 OBE reports, and if the OBEs are “real” in the sense that the conscious leaves the body and is able to view the physical world, you would hope that at least one of those ten would see the iPad.

    Having not seen the inclusion and exclusion criteria for the study, I don’t know whether this study is sufficiently powered, and since the study doesn’t explicitly state that it is trying to prove or disprove NDEs, then it is not surprising that it may not be adequately powered.

    AWARE III (My guess at the imaginative title) is a different proposition altogether though. Here I am referring to the COOL II study, Sam Parnia’s study on NDE-like experiences during surgery where the body is cooled and the HR lowered or even stopped. This is a very different set up as the conditions are highly controlled, the patients usually survive, and can be consented prior to the operation with knowledge there may be an iPad. You’d still probably need about 200 interviews, but given the high survival rates you wouldn’t need such a huge investment in time and resources from personnel charging around a hospital with a trolly every time someone codes.

    As always, I give full credit to Dr Parnia…his is not an easy job, and his endurance and patience is super-human.


    • Ben, about your “since the study doesn’t explicitly state that it is trying to prove or disprove NDEs”, do you know the kind of opposition Parnia would face if he explicitly said that? I thought it was well known the extreme ideology of mainstream neuroscience and medicine, anything against Newtonian billiard ball materialism is seen as dangerous heresy and if these guys had control of the law they’d burn Parnia at the stake for saying that. Thank god they dont, and parnia obviously wants to play it safe, he has explicitly said in a show with Morgan Freeman that consciousness continues after death (the story of god), but I think he’s a bit too eager and there’s not enough skepticism in him. Aware 2’s official methodology & aim outline is written to avoid the brutal onslaught of mainstream materialists, so ofc he didn’t state anything about proving NDEs. I’m surprised he hasn’t been fired yet for going around supporting NDEs, guess his superiors are cool people.


      • I agree completely with you, I was just pointing out that since this WASN’T explicitly stated etc…not that it SHOULD have been explicitly stated. It wasn’t clear, but I was talking in the hypothetical and that if you were to design a study that set out to prove or disprove such a hypothesis you’d aim for sufficient interviews to allow for the theoretical capture of a few verified OBEs. That is what I want, and we all want, but yes, Sam Parnia works in a world entirely hostile to these things.

        Also, yes it is odd, that he knowingly works in this highly sceptical environment (as do I, which is why I hide behind the name Ben Williams for the most part) and yet courts publicity by being the “go to” NDE doctor.


  17. Eduardo on said:

    @Tim……Among the reasons that were not interviewed is the fact that many died before. The resuscitation was successful, but they died later. Another may have had a near-death experience and wished not to tell him for the reasons that many people do not tell, that is, fear that they will not believe him, be taken for crazy people or ridicule him, it occurs to me to think about those reasons Tim .
    Regarding the case that YES heard the stimuli in addition to what you remember that Parnía already clarified some time ago in his tweet account that “sometimes, a person’s heart has not really stopped, but it is beating very weakly, so so much, the person still has the blood pressure so low that the pulse cannot be felt … THOSE PEOPLE WERE ALSO TREATED WITH CPR …. But since the heart is still beating, the addition of CPR allows the diastolic blood pressure ” “It rises enough to get enough blood in the brain to” wake up “people again. In true” cardiac arrest “there is no heartbeat or blood pressure.
    In true “cardiac arrest”: CPR only increases diastolic blood pressure slightly and 15% of cerebral blood flow – there is not enough brain function – all brain stem reflexes are absent, the brain remains flat. In the first case, people wake up, in the latter there are no signs of consciousness or brain activity.


    • @Eduardo

      Good points! That is quite likely what happened with the single case. I’m sure we’ll get more details from Dr Parnia in 2020 if not before.

      @Chad I saw your apology on the other thread and I accept. Let’s draw a line under it and move on, life is too short.


  18. OK, so I’ve had a chance to properly go through all the comments (trying to read stuff while you are in “important” meetings on an iPhone is not the way ahead!).

    It is hard to overstate the significance of Tim’s comments if he is right. Namely, if the patients were wearing earphones producing sound that drowned out all external noise, then it would have been impossible for them to hear conversations unless they were outside of their brain. i.e. they were having a non-visual or auditory OBE. Up to 4 patients may have reported this phenomenon – among other memories of core experiences, which suggests there were as many as 4 scientifically verified hits (it is not completely clear that all 4 had these kinds of auditory memories). My initial interpretation in the blog post was incorrect. The patient who heard the sounds was not having an NDE-like experience, but was possibly having a physical conscious experience due to residual blood flow from CPR or some other cause. His/her memories were most likely from consciousness inside their brain.

    The significance of the implicit vs explicit memory formation is also very relevant. From my understanding explicit memories would require full consciousness, which as we all know is not possible when the brain is not functioning at full capacity, as evidenced by the fact that only 1 out of 20 reported hearing the noise produced by the earphones – again thanks Tim for pointing out the significance of that.

    If Parnia interprets the data in this way then this poster is indeed very significant and provides the first measurable scientific evidence that the consciousness survives “death” and leaves the brain. This may be why Dr Parnia has been so confident in his assertions of body – consciousness separation. I still feel that just as I missed the significance of these findings on first reading, the wider lay population will also miss it and never really fully understand it. We still need the visual hit for truly convincing scientific proof, but if Parnia confirms Tim’s interpretation, and that there were definitely headphones making it impossible to hear external noise, then I feel we may have crossed an important threshold.

    Apologies all for dropping the ball on this one. My excuse is that the company I am working for just received some good news on the regulatory side of things for a new Neuroscience drug yesterday and I have been in various meetings focused on the next steps. While that was great news for our company, this is much more significant if Tim is right!

    Hopefully all will be revealed on Monday.


  19. Just to add, there is another poster presented by Parnia’s team at the AHA meeting that Eduardo spotted. I am going to hit pause before I write a post on it as I need to do some background reading on the various terms, but it suggests that consciousness of some type (as determined by EEG activity) may be possible during CPR provided there are sufficient levels of oxygen and during transient periods of spontaneous resuscitation. There is no attempt to correlate these findings with the cases described in the other poster, which would of course be the million dollar question. Given that only 38 patients had this kind of data, it’s possible that the 5 cases of interest were not among those who had full EEG and oxymetry.

    This will certainly be food for skeptics but unless you directly link +ve EEG of sufficient levels to produce physical consciousnesses with NDE reports it is irrelevant. The data that Parnia is generating is of the highest quality and will answer so many questions.


    • Well, we have to accept what they find whether we like it or not. And it does give sceptics a little hope, I’m not denying that. However after looking at it (the poster)in more detail, it really is only a little.

      Unless I’ve missed it or read it wrongly, they didn’t find any beta waves ? Beta waves are the type that we experience while we are normally conscious. The next one down, in levels of consciousness are alpha waves. From Scientific American :

      QUOTE “The next brainwave category in order of frequency is alpha. Where beta represented arousal, alpha represents non-arousal. Alpha brainwaves are slower, and higher in amplitude. Their frequency ranges from 9 to 14 cycles per second. A person who has completed a task and sits down to rest is often in an alpha state.”

      The vast majority of the brainwaves they found are not associated with consciousness (as we thought) and most of the patterns demonstrated complete absence of it > flatline –Burst suppression–coma=no consciousness possible.

      Delta waves=deep sleep–theta waves=pre sleep– erratic discharges are unpredictable but obviously not associated with clear thoughts.

      But it seems that one or more patients did have some alpha waves at some point which a determined sceptic could argue are sufficient to somehow cause an NDE.

      Remember what NDErs actually say, though. They tell us that their consciousness was heightened, expanded, with ultra quick cognitive ability. They tell us that their vision is incredibly clear and often they can see all around sometimes in 360 degrees. Can a period of alpha waves produce that ?

      Obviously not, but lets wait and see what Dr Parnia (the expert) has to say about this. It’s doing my head in now (the complexities of all this) as they say.


  20. These are the questions I have sent to Dr Parnia. Given he is at AHA this weekend and preparing for Mondays meeting, I doubt we will have an answer before Monday, but maybe he will answer them in his talks:

    1. Did the patients in the study have headphones on. If so, in your opinion, would it have been impossible for them to hear conversations in the ER?
    2. If the answer to 1 is yes, would you describe those cases where conversations were heard as scientifically confirmed auditory OBEs? (In terms of the confirmation, how were they confirmed…did they describe exact words said that were later verified?)
    3. How many of the 4 patients who had core NDE experiences – feelings of peace, tunnel etc had these confirmed “auditory OBEs”?
    4. Were any of the 5 patents discussed in poster 387 among the 38 included in the analysis in poster 287 and were you able to correlate (or not) recollections of consciousness with oxygen levels and EEG activity?
    5. I noted that the numbers in this study are low, and are the same numbers that were presented at rounds at NYU earlier this year, and in fact are very similar to numbers presented in March 2018. I appreciate an enormous amount of work goes into getting even these numbers, but can you confirm that you have recruited more patients and if so, how many complete interviews do you now have?
    6. Do you have a target for the total number of completed interviews that you feel must be conducted before the study can be closed, and when do you anticipate this being based on current progress?


  21. Werner Bartl on said:

    but why is Sam Parnia so convinced that consciousness goes beyond the brain, he would not give such interviews, what do you say?


  22. If the guy heard stuff during CA and brain shutdown yes it’s a hit. Case closed.


  23. About the audio stimuli, it is not clear to me whether the person that heard the audio had earphones in or not, and if yes, whether he heard the sound coming from the earphones (which would not be very impressive for people looking for obe proofs), or whether he heard an external sound.

    And it seems only a few people they interviewed from this sample, had an NDE. And NDE is not necessarily the same as an OBE. If people say they saw their body during OBE, they should also see the Ipad normally. But no one of these interviewees apparently claimed to have seen their on body. That’s why no real conlusions can be drawn from what was presented. It makes me disappointed that they didn’t wait until the whole study was completed to announce results. Because what they have presented now, doesn’t really say much with such low numbers.

    Ben, you have some good questions for Parnia, and I hope he will take the time to give a proper answer on these questions. Then we may be able to draw more conclusions.


  24. Still doesn’t sound like they are enrolling and interviewing the survivors fast enough…

    There is some evidence from Pim Van Lommel’s study that the deeper/richer NDE’s were correlated with longer periods of cardiac arrest, and that these longer periods of cardiac arrest resulted in poorer outcomes for the patient… i.e. those patients with richer/deeper experiences died more quickly following successful resuscitation, than those with shorter periods of cardiac arrest.

    Time is of the essence here…


  25. Ideally, all the patients should be wearing EEG caps so that we have recordings of their brain activities during the NDEs. I realise that this may be difficult to do in practice.


  26. How disappointing that so few NDEs were reported in this sample. It really makes me wonder the genocidal sample sizes that seem to be necessary to obtain a statistically significant number of NDEs. AWARE III will be needed and Parnia isn’t the fresh-faced doctor of 2011 anymore, I wonder if he will have it in himself.

    Liked by 1 person

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