Going with a bang instead of a whimper
The movie of our lives
Flashbacks during near-death experiences
A casual finding
The heart stops, the brain continues
First research done in a person
Rats remember
A legend becomes science
Looking beyond the veil
Walk into the light
'The last hurrah'
Bye bye, life
A once-in-a-lifetime study
The same gamma waves
Post-mortem brain activity
The last question
Life does flash in front of your eyes before you die, a new study suggests
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Going with a bang instead of a whimper

A new study published by the scientific journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, titled 'Enhanced Interplay of Neuronal Coherence and Coupling in the Dying Human Brain', reveals that the old saying is true: Our brain might replay key moments of our lives as we depart from this world.

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The movie of our lives

One could understand that we might see our lives played out in front of our eyes like a movie, according to data collected from the brain scan of a dying person at the exact moment they gave their last breath. Gamma oscillations of the brain in that instance were comparable to moments where we are deeply focused, dreaming, or remembering something.

Image: Alex Litvin / Unsplash

Life does flash in front of your eyes before you die, a new study suggests
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Flashbacks during near-death experiences

The study points out previous anecdotal evidence of individuals who, after going through Near-Death Experiences, tend to remember flashbacks that have been linked to the brain's oscillatory activity.

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A casual finding

This discovery, which collected data of an outburst of gamma activity in a dying brain, occurred by chance. A group of international researchers was following the checkup of an 87-year-old patient with epilepsy. The research team was scanning his brain when he passed away. Before that, they managed to get an image of the final moments of his mind, with a big surprise.

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The heart stops, the brain continues

Another scientific finding from this study is that brain activity continues for some 30 seconds after the heart has ceased its functions.

Image: Hal Gatewood / Unsplash

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First research done in a person

This is the first time that the brain activity of a person has fully been registered in the minutes before and after passing away. This has been done before, with other species, though the moral implications of these experiments are disputed.

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Rats remember

Experiments with rats back up the observation of this test. They, too, show up to 30 seconds of a very high level of brain activity after the heart has stopped.

Image: Ricky Kharawala / Unsplash

 

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A legend becomes science

The idea that the brain continues to work after the heart stops have always seemed more fiction than fact. It was always said that the eyes of those who passed through the guillotine would give a final glance after being beheaded. It could be true, given the results of this research.

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Looking beyond the veil

Our fascination with life, death, and the line in between have not only generated scientific speculations, but also all sorts of religious and mystical theories and, of course, a good amount of ideas to the realm of fiction. One example is the 1990 movie 'Flatliners', in which a group of young doctors tries to get as close to death as possible, only to have a sneak peek beyond the veil.

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Walk into the light

Another common element of those with near-death experiences is their perception of walking towards a guiding light. A study, done with rats by the University of Michigan, attributes this vision to a final explosion of brain activity right at the moment of passing on, the BBC reports.

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'The last hurrah'

Psychologist Jason Braithwaite, a professor at Lancaster University, defines that guiding light as the “last hurrah” of a brain before it shuts off forever. The final sunbeam languishing over the horizon.

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Bye bye, life

If the brain is going through the key moments of our lives just before expiring, it's comforting to think that it's signing off by remembering some of the most beautiful instants of our existence.

Image: Natasha Connell / Unsplash

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A once-in-a-lifetime study

Yet, it's almost impossible to replicate the study published by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Maybe we can do it with animals, but there's an increasing number of moral and legal limitations about that.

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The same gamma waves

In short, it's been proven that there's an outburst of brain activity during the moment of our demise, and that such activity has the same gamma waves that we have while reminiscing about our past.

Image: David Matos / Unsplash

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Post-mortem brain activity

Another important finding: The brain continues to function for at least 30 seconds after the last heartbeat. This matches a previous study done with rats.

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The last question

In any case, whatever we believe that happens after we shuffle off this mortal coil, no longer belongs to the realm of science. Possibly, individual beliefs can provide a satisfactory answer to that question.

Image: Vincentiu Solomon / Unsplash

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