No one has yet found the one means of immortality, so sooner or later we will have to deal with our demise. Researchers have also been interested in what happens when we breathe our last breath, or at least one, for quite some time near death experience do. By a tragic coincidence, however, experts have now been able to make an observation that allows new insights into death.
Near-death experience: This happens in the brain
Reports of life flashing before one’s eyes during a near-death experience are well known, almost cliche. And yet there is some truth to them. Not only is there human evidence, but now there’s new scientific evidence, according to a new study.
For the first time ever, scientists were able to observe the activities of a dying human brain. They didn’t intend to do that at all. Instead, they constantly monitored an 87-year-old person suffering from epilepsy. However, while the investigation was ongoing, she suffered a heart attack and died. The team was unexpectedly able to record a total of 15 minutes of brain activity around the time of death.
Specifically, they focused on 30 seconds before and 30 seconds after cardiac arrest. An increased activity was found in a certain form of brain waves, the so-called gamma oscillations. These are involved in processes such as dreaming, meditation and memory retrieval. This is an indication of what a dying person actually experiences.
When we die, we may remember
“By generating oscillations involved in memory, the brain could play a final memory of important life events just before we die, similar to those reported in near-death experiences. This finding challenges our knowledge of when life actually ends and raises important new questions, for example, regarding the timing of organ donation.”
dr Ajmal Zemmar, neurosurgeon and lead author of the study
In any case, the brain is capable of coordinated activities even when no blood is flowing through it. This enabled the researchers to gain new insights, the search for which they wanted to start in 2019. At that time it was about the question of whether consciousness lives on after death. dr Sam Parnia and his team set out to see what happens to the brain during cardiac arrest. Now there is a first answer.
Take the result with caution
Nevertheless, it is still too early for too concrete statements. Finally, the activities mentioned could only be determined in a single person who also had an already damaged brain and suffered from epilepsy. It is hoped that further opportunities for investigation will arise in the future.
Source: Enhanced Interplay of Neuronal Coherence and Coupling in the Dying Human Brain (2022, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience)