An unusual experience occurred in Louisville, one of the largest cities in the US state of Kentucky. A team of scientists was measuring the brainwaves of an 87-year-old patient with epilepsy. But unexpectedly, the guy had a heart attack and died. In this way, the first such scientific record of the moment of death was created. What did the results show?
Brainwaves recovered during death
It turns out that the patient experienced something like a flashback about 30 seconds before and 30 seconds after a fatal heart attack. The man’s brain waves followed the same patterns as falling asleep or recalling memories. “This type of brain activity may indicate that final retrieval of memories may be in the last moments of life,” the team wrote in their study published Tuesday in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
“Just before and just after the heart stopped working, we saw changes in a certain range of neuronal oscillations, the so-called gamma oscillations, but also in other oscillations, such as delta, theta, alpha and beta.” Dr. Ajmal Zammar is a neurosurgeon at the University of Louisville, USA. This continued 30 seconds after the heart had stopped beating – the point at which the patient is presumed dead. This discovery was accidental, because no one expected his death, especially when he was connected to the device.
Are our memories before death good?
Dr. Zammar said it was impossible to say for certain what kind of memories the mind had evoked at the time of death. “If I were answering philosophically,” he said, “I would have speculated that the brain would probably want to remind us of good things, not bad things.” “What is memorable will be different for each person,” he added. Dr. Zammar and his team also cautioned that a single patient study cannot draw general conclusions. The matter is further complicated by the fact that the patient suffers from epilepsy.
However, the researcher hopes that publishing the history of this condition will open the door to further research on brain activity near life and death. He also said that such discoveries are among the moments in which science enthusiasts live.
While this study is the first of its kind to measure live brain activity during the dying process of humans, similar changes in gamma oscillation have been observed in mice kept in controlled environments. This means that at death it is possible for the brain to regulate and carry out a biological response that can be conserved in all species.
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