According to researchers, brain waves indicate that a process of rapid memory retrieval is taking place at the time of death.
The first-ever recording of a dying human brain shows the presence of waves similar to those seen during dreaming and memory recall, claims an international team of neuroscientists.
An 87-year-old man presented to the emergency room at Vancouver General Hospital with symptoms resembling epilepsy after hitting his head in a fall. Dr. Ajmal Zemmar and the medical team there quickly performed a continuous electroencephalography (EC) to check his brain's electrical activity, but the man suffered cardiac arrest during the exam and was never able to be resuscitated.
EC is a technique for recording the electrical activity of the brain using electrodes placed along the scalp.
The thread of events surrounding this person's brain death was therefore recorded, allowing an international team of neuroscientists led by Dr. Ajmal Zemmar, now working at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, to scrutinize the information. collected.
We measured 900 seconds of brain activity around the time of death. However, we focused on what happened in the 30 seconds before and after the heart stopped, says Dr. Zemmar in a statement.
“Just before and after cardiac arrest, we observed changes in the so-called gamma oscillations, but also in others such as delta, theta oscillations , alpha and beta.
— Dr. Ajmal Zemmar
According to the researchers, the brain waves indicate that a rapid memory retrieval process took place at the time of death. These results suggest, according to them, that certain memories paraded in his mind at the time of death.
Brain oscillations are patterns of rhythmic brain activity found in living human brains. Different types of oscillations, including gammas, are involved in complex cognitive functions, such as concentration, dreaming, meditation, memory retrieval, information processing, and conscious perception , just like those associated with the unfolding of memories (flashbacks) at the time of death.
By generating brain oscillations involved in memory retrieval, the brain may be carrying out a final recall of important life events in a person before dying, similar to those reported in near-death experiences, speculates Dr. Zemmar, whose study is published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
“These results challenge what we think we know about the time of death. Everyone has a stake in it and every human being, at one time or another, loses someone or personally faces death. »
— Dr. Ajmal Zemmar
This study is based on a single case from a traumatic brain, which makes the interpretation of the results hazardous. data. Dr. Zemmar wants to continue studying the question, but believes that the current study suggests that the brain remains active to coordinate the transition to death.
It is extremely difficult to #x27;breaking the news of someone's death to distraught family members. To think that the brains of our departing loved ones are replaying some of the most enjoyable times they have had in their lives is a source of hope, concludes Dr. Zemmar.