The researchers observed the activity of the human brain in the last moments before death. For the first time, they revealed rhythmic patterns of activity comparable to the activity observed during dreaming. This finding could support the experiences of people who find themselves on the verge of life and death, many have said that their whole life has been projected “before their eyes.”
The discovery occurred during the treatment of epilepsy in an 87-year-old man under the care of Dr. Raul Vicente at the University of Tartu, Estonia. The patient was monitored continuously with continuous electroencephalography (EEG)which helped doctors detect and manage seizures as soon as they occurred.
On the border between life and death
Unfortunately, the patient’s health deteriorated during treatment, later contracted a heart attack and died during EEG recording. Thanks to this unexpected event, scientists obtained a record of human brain activity before and after death, the results of which later published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
“We measured 900 seconds brain activity at the time of death and we focused on examining what happened 30 seconds before and after the heart stopped beating. ” stated in the statement neurosurgeon and study director Ajmal Zemmar of the University of Louisville in the USA.
Analysis of the record revealed changes in brain waves before and after cardiac arrest, including specific wave types associated with higher cognitive functions. It turned out that in the last moments, the types of waves typical of dreaming, recall, meditation and information processing seemed to have started in the brain.
Interestingly, that the activity continued for some time after the heart stopped beating. Therefore, according to Zemmar, these findings raise new questions about life and death. “These findings call into question our understanding of when exactly life ends and raise important follow-up questions, such as the timing of organ harvesting.”
Further research is needed
The published conclusions have their limitations because they focus on only one case study in which brain function irregularities caused by epilepsy were known. However, it builds on previous research that found similar brainwave changes before and after cardiac death in rats.
So it is possible that “remembering life” in the last moments of life would could be a biological reaction observed in all animal specieshowever, drawing clear conclusions requires further research.
“As a neurosurgeon, I sometimes encounter death. It is indescribably difficult to report the deaths to crushed family members. “ Zemmar said. “From this research, we can learn the following: even though our loved ones have their eyes closed and ready to leave us, their brains may be replaying some of the most beautiful moments they have ever experienced.”