The first-ever recording of a dying brain has brought scientists closer to understanding what happens to the human brain as we die. A study published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience suggests that life may actually flash in front of our eyes before death.
The discovery was made quite by accident. According to BBC, neuroscientists were measuring the brainwaves of an 87-year-old patient who had developed epilepsy – but when the patient suffered a heart attack during the process, it gave scientists an unexpected recording of a dying human brain.
The recording revealed unexpected brain activity in the memory retrieval area, suggesting that we may recall our lives for one final time before we die.
Dr Ajmal Zemmar, a co-author of the study, told BBC that in the 30 seconds before the patient’s brain stopped receiving blood, his brainwaves “followed the same patterns as when we carry out high-cognitive demanding tasks, like concentrating, dreaming or recalling memories.”
This continued for 30 seconds after the patient’s heart stopped beating. “This could possibly be a last recall of memories that we’ve experienced in life, and they replay through our brain in the last seconds before we die,” Dr Zemmar speculated.
He elaborated on the team’s findings further and said: “Just before and after the heart stopped working, we saw changes in a specific band of neural oscillations, so-called gamma oscillations, but also in others such as delta, theta, alpha, and beta oscillations.
“Through generating oscillations involved in memory retrieval, the brain may be playing a last recall of important life events just before we die, similar to the ones reported in near-death experiences,” Dr Zemmar told Frontiers Science News. “These findings challenge our understanding of when exactly life ends and generate important subsequent questions, such as those related to the timing of organ donation.”
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