It’s been referenced many times in books, songs and films, but it looks like the whole cliche of ‘life flashing before your eyes’ when you die line could actually be very real, thanks to certain parts of your brain linked to memory being the last to be affected by your body shutting down.
Research conducted by experts at Hadassah University in Jerusalem interviewed participants who had had near-death experiences did in fact relive intensely emotional moments from their lives, but these were not always in chronological order or even from their own point of view, as the brain made them see events from the eyes of others involved in key moments from their time on earth.
One participant said “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".
On the case of experiencing events from the point of view from someone else, another participant commented: “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".
Researchers claim that this extraordinary occurrence could be down to the actions of the autobiographical memories such the prefrontal, medial temporal, and parietal cortices, which are some of the last components to suffer from oxygen and blood loss, that could make certain people (it’s said to happen more to those with a higher level of carbon dioxide in the breath and arteries following cardiac arrest) relive random events from their past.
This groundbreaking study which was originally published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, concluded that “Re-experiencing one's own life-events, so-called LRE (life review experience), 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".
So all of that stuff in The OA might not be complete nonsense after all.