As we commence the twenty-first century, one of the most interesting and observable changes in science has been the widening of its boundaries to encompass a number of traditionally philosophical questions. Perhaps the biggest questions of all that still remains unanswered are: “What is it that actually makes us into the thinking conscious beings that we are? What is the nature of the human self, mind, or consciousness? Who are we? What is it that gives us life?”
The interest in this topic has been pondered by all civilizations and addressed by many different philosophers and scholars. It is commonly referred to as the “mind-body problem” or “problem of consciousness.” This problem can be summarized by trying to understand how we could have a sense of consciousness that arises from brain processes. In other words, how do all of our subjective thoughts, feelings, and emotions — everything that makes us unique arise from brain cells? Although traditionally considered a matter for philosophical debate, advancements in modern science and in particular, the science of resuscitation, have now enabled an objective, scientific approach to seek answers to these compelling questions, questions which bear widespread implications not only for science, but also for all of humanity.
Today, most scientists have adopted a traditionally monist view of the mind-brain problem, arguing that the human mind, consciousness, and self are no more than by-products of electrochemical activity within the brain, notwithstanding the lack of any scientific evidence or even a plausible biological explanation as to how the brain would lead to the development of mind and consciousness. This has led some prominent researchers, such as the late Nobel-winning neuroscientist Sir John Eccles, to propose a dualist view of the problem, arguing that the human mind and consciousness may in fact constitute a separate, undiscovered entity apart from the brain.
In recent years, a number of scientific studies conducted by independent researchers, including Dr. Sam Parnia, have found that as many as 10-20 percent of individuals who undergo cardiac arrest report lucid, well-structured thought processes, reasoning, memories, and sometimes detailed recall of their cardiac arrest. What makes these experiences remarkable is that while studies of the brain during cardiac arrest have consistently shown that there is no brain activity during this period, these individuals have reported detailed perceptions that appear to indicate the presence of a high-level of consciousness in the absence of measurable brain activity. These studies appear to suggest that the human mind and consciousness may in fact function at a time when the clinical criteria of death are fully present and the brain has ceased functioning.
Horizon Research Foundation is a separate and independent charitable organization that aims to provide support for scientific research and understanding into the state of the human mind at the end of life. It strives to do this by raising funds for high quality scientific projects and providing various educational tools for the public and healthcare professionals.
This website has been established to enable all those who are interested in this fascinating area of scientific research to get updated objective information and have access to a comprehensive resource center on the state of the human mind at the end of life.