This Is What Happens In Your Head When Your Life Flashes Before Your Eyes

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We know that scene in countless films, books and television shows when the main character recalls the moment before they died or almost died. It always starts with the line, “I saw my life flash before my eyes.”

The inspiration comes from a place of reality. Many people have reported a similar happening or ‘life review’ before a near death experience. A new study has decided to explore this mystery and its origins.

Published in the journal, Consciousness and Cognition, the team of authors led by Israeli neurologist Judith Katz decided to look at a range of different life-review experiences or LRE’s to support the idea of their existence.

Within the pile they found a commonality – the timeline of events that flash before the subject’s eyes is rarely chronological.

Said, one participant:

‘‘There is not a linear progression, there is a 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.”

They also found that most had major emotional breakthroughs or epiphanies usually about people very close to them.

From this collected data, the researchers came up with the theory that our brains have everything to do with this occurrence.

“These results suggest that the LRE phenomenon is based on an alteration of a common neurocognitive mechanism shared by the general, healthy population,” they wrote in the study.

In layman’s terms, our lives flashing before our eyes isn’t some out of body existential experience. It’s a neurological reaction to trauma where our brain’s review daily happenings like some kind of mental Rolodex.

The brain is magic.

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Loaded staff writer Danielle De La Bastide has lived all over the planet and written for BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog as well as print publications throughout the Caribbean.