SCIENTISTS in Southampton are launching the world’s biggest study into near-death experiences.

Experts from across the globe have teamed up with the University of Southampton to find out what happens to people when they are brought back to life minutes or even hours after their body stops working.

The AWARE study – Awareness During Resuscitation – will focus on the period of time when a person can be resuscitated. After the heart, lungs and brain stop working they go into cardiac arrest, resulting in clinical death.

Recent scientific studies by independent researchers show that ten to 20 per cent of people who go through cardiac arrest and clinical death report lucid, well-structured thought processes, as well as reasoning, memories and sometimes detailed recall of events.

Out-of-body Scientists and physicists, as part of the Human Consciousness Project at the university, will look at brain activity and speak to people about what they claim they can see and hear when they have out-of-body experiences.

It is hoped that the revolutionary new research will improve medical and psychological care of people who have undergone cardiac arrest.

Dr Sam Parnia, an expert in the field of consciousness during clinical death, is leading the study, together with Dr Peter Fenwick and Professors Stephen Holgate and Robert Peveler.

Dr Parnia said: “What people experience during cardiac arrest provides a unique window of understanding into what we are all likely to experience during the dying process.”

Following a successful 18-month pilot phase at selected hospitals in the UK, the study is now being expanded to include other centres within the country as well as Europe and North America.