Study Sees Brain at Death, Suggests ‘Movie of Life’ Flashes

For the first time, researchers have been able to analyze images of a brain just as a person dies. The 87-year-old patient suffered from epilepsy and was in the middle of an electroencephalogram when he had a massive heart attack and died.

Scientists from universities in China, the United States and Canada managed to record 15 minutes of images and electromagnetic waves. Specifically in the 30 seconds before and after the last heartbeat, an increase in very specific brain waves was detected.

Known as “gamma oscillations”, the waves are linked to memory, meditation and dreams. According to the researchers, the discovery suggests that, moments before death, we can see a brief “movie of life”, with flashes of our fondest memories. The activated part of the brain also shows that this moment can leave the patient in a meditative and peaceful state seconds before dying.

Similar waves had previously been observed in mice, but never in humans. Neurosurgeon Ajmal Zemmar, from the University of Toronto, Canada, and the University of Louisville, USA, organized the study and explains that the data points to a memory retrieval system similar to what is saved in near-death situations.

“These results challenge our understanding of the exact end of life and raise other important questions, such as the best time to donate organs,” explains the doctor.

The study was published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience last Wednesday (2/22). However, the researchers point out that the research only considers data from one patient, and that epilepsy had previously damaged the brains of older people. Further research is needed to see if the scenario happens to everyone.

“What we’ve learned in this research is that even though our loved ones have closed their eyes and are ready to leave us, their brains may be replaying some of the best times they’ve had in their lives,” adds Zemmar.

Source: Metropolis | Photo: Haydenbird/GettyImages

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