Today’s Solutions: November 28, 2022

For the first time ever, scientists have recorded the activity of a dying brain, and their discoveries have given some legitimacy to the common idea that our whole lives “flash before our eyes” before death.

The remarkable thing is that the scientists weren’t planning on measuring the brain’s activity around the time of death. That was just a coincidence.

At the time, the researchers were actually continuously monitoring the brain waves of an 87-year-old epilepsy patient to look out for seizures, but during the treatment, the patient ended up having a sudden heart attack and died.

As a result, the researchers recorded 15 minutes of brain activity around the time of death and were able to zone in on the 30 seconds before and after the heart stopped beating. Through this glimpse of a dying person’s experience, they observed increased activity in brain waves known as gamma oscillations, which are involved in dreaming, meditation, and memory retrieval processes. 

“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,” explains the lead author of the study Dr. Ajmal Zemmar. “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.”

According to this study, the brain is capable of coordinated activity even after blood has stopped flowing through it. The team observed for the first time in humans’ changes in gamma waves around the time of death that are similar to the ones that have been detected previously in rats.

The team emphasizes that the results of this study should be taken with a grain of salt, as the data comes from a single case study involving a patient whose brain had been injured and was already undergoing unusual activity related to epilepsy. Still, this accidental breakthrough has opened up the door for researchers to investigate more cases in a wider range of patients.

“Something we may learn from this research is: although our loved ones have their eyes closed and are ready to leave us to rest, their brains may be replaying some of the nicest moments they experienced in their lives,” adds Zemmar.

Source study: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience—Enhanced interplay of neuronal coherence and coupling in the dying human brain

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

These innovative solar panels stalk the sun across the sky

In order to get the most out of its energy, a Portuguese company's sustainable solution stalks the Sun as it journeys across the sky. ...

Read More

5 questions for assessing your own emotional intelligence

When it comes to working with others, Marcel Schwantes believes emotional intelligence (EQ) is everything. As leaders, when we are being impulsive, shortsighted, reacting ...

Read More

Meet Jenny, the horse who takes a daily stroll alone through Frankfurt

The following story may not necessarily be a solution, but we hope it puts a smile on your face. In the city of Frankfurt, ...

Read More

9 home interior design tips for longevity

The lives and habits of those who live in Blue Zones, otherwise known as the regions where the longest-living people on the planet live, ...

Read More