Scientists have tracked brain activity at the time of death.
Brain waves show that it really “projects life before your eyes
Scientists have observed human brain activity in the last moments before death. For the first time, they found a rhythmic pattern of activity comparable to that observed during dreams. This conclusion can be confirmed by the experience of people who find themselves on the border between life and death, many of whom said that their lives are being projected “before their eyes.
The discovery was made under the direction of Dr. Raul Vicente of the University of Tartu, Estonia, during treatment of an 87-year-old man with epilepsy. The patient was constantly monitored using continuous electroencephalography (EEG), which helped doctors detect and stop seizures as they occurred.
On the Boundary Between Life and Death
Unfortunately, during the treatment, the patient’s health deteriorated and he subsequently suffered a heart attack and died while recording the EEG. Thanks to this unexpected event, researchers obtained recordings of human brain activity before and after death, the results of which were later published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers In Aging Neuroscience.
Ajmal Zemmar, a neurosurgeon and study leader at the University of Louisville, USA, said in a statement,
“We focused on measuring 900 seconds of brain activity at death and studying what happened 30 seconds before and after the heart stopped beating.”
Analysis of the recordings showed changes in brain waves before and after cardiac arrest, including specific types of waves associated with higher cognitive function. She showed that the types of waves characteristic of dreaming, memory, meditation, and information processing were clearly turned on in the last moments.
Interestingly, the activity continued for some time after the heart stopped beating. Thus, according to Zemmar, these findings raise new questions about life and death.
“These results challenge our understanding of exactly when life ends and raise important follow-up questions, such as the timing of organ removal.”
Further Research Needed
The published results are limited because the study focused on a single case of known brain damage caused by epilepsy. However, they are based on the results of an earlier study that found similar changes in EEG before and after cardiac death in rats.
Thus, “remembering life” in the last moments of life may be a biological response observed in all animal species, leading to firm conclusions
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As a neurosurgeon, I regularly face death. Breaking the news of death to a family experiencing devastation is unspeakably difficult,” says Zemmar.
“From this study, we can learn the following: even when our loved ones are ready to close their eyes and leave us, their brains may be replaying some of life’s best moments.”