Study on dying man's brain shows that we do recall memories on our death beds

A man is recorded to have had an increase in brain activity most commonly associated with memory recall before he died

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We often hear the phrase that your life flashes before your eyes before death, but a new study may have just proved that theory to be true.

Neuroscientists who analysed recordings of the brain of an 87-year-old man in the moments before he died discovered that he had a burst of brain activity during that time.

The team found an increase and change in the man’s alpha and gamma brain waves – which are usually involved in cognitive processes and memory recall – suggesting that he experienced a ‘recall of life’ before death.

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The research, published in the Frontiers, says the man had been hospitalised and operated on due to a nasty fall which caused a bleed on his brain.

While undergoing treatment after his accidents, he passed away during an electroencephalography (EEG).

In their analysis of recordings in the 30 seconds before and after his death, they found that while the man’s heart stopped beating, his brain increased in activity, proposing that the brain continues to work after blood stops following to it after someone passes.

The team behind the study said: “Given that cross-coupling between alpha and gamma activity is involved in cognitive processes and memory recall in healthy subjects, it is intriguing to speculate that such activity could support a last ‘recall of life’ that may take place in the near-death state.”

As the findings are based on just one person, the researchers urged people to be cautious and remember that more work needs to be done to prove the theory.

Nevertheless, the research could give us a new insight into what happens to us when we die.

Dr Ajmal Zemmar, a neurosurgeon at the University of Louisville and one of the study’s co-authors said: “These findings challenge our understanding of when exactly life ends and generate important subsequent questions.”

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