rResearchers record the brain waves of a dying patient
Scientists have recorded the activity of a dying human brain for the first time ever, revealing brain wave patterns related to processes like dreaming and memory recall.
An 87-year-old man was admitted to an emergency unit in Estonia after a fall. The patient was operated upon but faced as many as 12 epileptic attacks post-surgery. As part of monitoring the individual, doctors used continuous electroencephalography (EEG) that provided a means to detect the seizures. Unfortunately, the patient suffered a heart attack during this time and passed away. However, the continuous EEG monitor provided the first-ever recording of human brain activity during death.
The researchers saw brain waves of all the different types but the gamma waves were more dominant among them. The researchers of the study speculate that these waves are possibly associated with a memory flashback during these last moments of life.
The study wasn’t specifically designed to measure the brain’s activity around the time of death – it was just a matter of happenstance. The researchers were continuously monitoring the brain waves of the 87-year-old epilepsy patient using EEG, to watch for seizures. However, during the treatment, the patient suddenly had a heart attack and died.
As such, the researchers managed to record 15 minutes of brain activity around the time of death. They focused in on the 30 seconds either side of when the heart stopped beating, and detected increased activity in types of brain waves known as gamma oscillations. These are involved in processes such as dreaming, meditation and memory retrieval, giving a glimpse into what a person may be experiencing during their final moments.
“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,” said Dr. Ajmal Zemmar, lead author of the study. “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.”
The team says that the observations indicate the brain is capable of coordinated activity even after blood stops flowing through it. Similar changes in gamma waves around the time of death had previously been detected in rats, but this marks the first time that such activity have been detected in humans.
Of course, the results should be taken with some caution, the team stressed. The data comes from just a single case study, and even that was in a patient whose brain had been injured and was undergoing unusual activity related to epilepsy. The researchers hope to investigate further in other cases.
“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,” said Zemmar.
Published by newatlas.com/medical/first-recording-dying-human-brain-activity/
Also read more here