A team of British researchers have “confirmed” that consciousness can go on when someone dies but the study also uncovered some disturbing aspects of the so-called afterlife.

The scientists looked at the cases of over 2,000 people and have established that thoughts continue on after their hearts stops beating.

They found that those who experienced some awareness, only two percent said their experience was consistent with the feeling of an outer body experience where an individual is completely aware and can hear and see what’s going on around them when their heart stops beating.

A more troubling discovery was that nearly half of the respondents said the experience was not of awareness, but of overpowering fear.

While undertaking the research the scientists uncovered what may be the first proven case of a patient’s out of body experience.

The work carried out by the University of Southampton has revealed that people still experience awareness for up to three minutes after they had been pronounced dead.

Head researcher Dr Sam Parnia told the Daily Express: “Contrary to perception, death is not a specific moment but a potentially reversible process that occurs after any severe illness or accident causes the heart, lungs and brain to cease functioning.

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“If attempts are made to reverse this process, it is referred to as ‘cardiac arrest’; however, if these attempts do not succeed it is called ‘death’.”

One of the significant finding of the work involved a 57-year old man who could be the very first confirmed outer body experience in a human.

This patient could remember with pinpoint accuracy events going on around his body after he had “died”.

Dr Parnia added: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating.