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Dying Brain Scan Reveals Life May Flash Before Your Eyes

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1. Introduction

The discovery that life may flash before your eyes at death was made accidentally when a man died during a routine brain scan. During the 30 seconds before and after the man’s heart stopped, his brain waves were remarkably similar to those seen during dreaming, memory recall, and meditation. This suggests that people may actually see their life “flash before their eyes” when they die affirming NDEs concerning the so-called life review. This latest dying brain scan study also affirms that a surge of brain activity occurs after the heart stops beating and before brain death. This study also corresponds with a 2013 study involving the brains of dying rats which discovered a surge of the rats’ brain activity before death.

While these dying brain studies show consciousness increasing BEFORE brain death, near-death studies provide descriptions of consciousness increasing and continuing AFTER brain death – but before permanent irreversible bodily death. The NDE of Pam Reynolds (1956–2010) is a case in point. In 1991, Reynolds underwent a rare operation to remove a giant basilar artery aneurysm in her brain. The operation is known as “deep hypothermic circulatory arrest” (DHCA) or “standstill” which required that Reynolds’s body temperature be lowered to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing stopped, her brain waves flattened, and the blood drained from her head. In everyday terms, she was put to death. After removing the aneurysm, she was restored to life. During the time that Reynolds was in brain death standstill, she experienced an NDE. Her remarkably detailed veridical (i.e., verified) out-of-body observations during her surgery were later verified to be true. Her case is considered to be one of the strongest cases of veridical evidence in NDE research because of her ability to describe the unique surgical instruments, the surgical procedures used on her, and her ability to describe in detail these events while she was brain dead.

These dying brain studies suggest the existence of a biological component to NDEs. That there is a biological component cannot be denied. Near-death studies reveal that an “umbilical-like cord” connects the spirit body to the physical body which is disconnected at the time of irreversible death. Many near-death and out-of-body experiencers have described seeing this “umbilical-like” cord connecting their spirit body to their physical body which religious traditions refer to as the “silver cord.” Just as a baby’s umbilical cord must be severed for the baby to experience life, the silver cord must be severed for the spirit body to experience permanent spiritual life. It is believed that the NDE does not involve the silver cord becoming severed; otherwise, there would be no NDE and irreversible bodily death would occur.

Near-death experiencers frequently reach a “point of no return” which cannot be crossed unless permanent, irreversible bodily death occurs. This point of no return is represented in NDEs by a barrier of some kind such as a river, a fence or wall, a door, a line, or simply a deceased loved one(s) or the Being of Light. At this point, the silver cord has stretched close to its breaking point; and returning to their physical body occurs very quickly like stretching a rubber band and letting go of one end. The near-death experiencer frequently “snaps” back into their body with a jolt. The intact silver cord and the point of no return shows that permanent, irreversible bodily death never occurs in NDEs; and that a biological component to NDEs does exist.

Other studies involve a phenomenon called “terminal lucidity” which also show that brain activity increases before death. Terminal lucidity, also known as rallying or the rally, is an unexpected return of mental clarity and memory, or suddenly regained consciousness that occurs in the time shortly before death in patients suffering from severe psychiatric or neurological disorders. This condition has been reported by physicians since the 19th century.

The following articles document these dying brain scan studies.

2. Life May Actually Flash Before Your Eyes On Death — New Study

By Holly Honderich, BBC, February 23, 2022

URL:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-60495730

New data from a scientific “accident” has suggested that life may actually flash before our eyes as we die. A team of scientists set out to measure the brainwaves of an 87-year-old patient who had developed epilepsy. But during the neurological recording, he suffered a fatal heart attack – offering an unexpected recording of a dying brain. It revealed that in the 30 seconds before and after, the man’s brainwaves followed the same patterns as dreaming or recalling memories. Brain activity of this sort could suggest that a final “recall of life” may occur in a person’s last moments, the team wrote in their study, published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (see below) on Tuesday.

Dr Ajmal Zemmar, a co-author of the study, said that what the team, then based in Vancouver, Canada, accidentally got, was the first-ever recording of a dying brain. He told the BBC: “This was actually totally by chance, we did not plan to do this experiment or record these signals.”

So will we get a glimpse back at time with loved ones and other happy memories? Dr Zemmar said it was impossible to tell.

“If I were to jump to the philosophical realm, I would speculate that if the brain did a flashback, it would probably like to remind you of good things, rather than the bad things,” he said. “But what’s memorable would be different for every person.”

Dr. Zemmar, now a neurosurgeon at the University of Louisville, said in the 30 seconds before the patient’s heart stopped supplying blood to the brain, his brainwaves followed the same patterns as when we carry out high-cognitive demanding tasks, like concentrating, dreaming or recalling memories. It continued 30 seconds after the patient’s heart stopped beating – the point at which a patient is typically declared dead.

“This could possibly be a last recall of memories that we’ve experienced in life, and they replay through our brain in the last seconds before we die.”

The study also raises questions about when, exactly, life ends – when the heart stops beating, or the brain stops functioning.

Dr. Zemmar and his team have cautioned that broad conclusions can’t be drawn from a study of one. The fact that the patient was epileptic, with a bleeding and swollen brain, complicates things further.

“I never felt comfortable to report one case,” Dr. Zemmar said. And for years after the initial recording in 2016, he looked for similar cases to help strengthen the analysis but was unsuccessful.

But a 2013 study – carried out on healthy rats – may offer a clue. In that analysis, US researchers reported high levels of brainwaves at the point of the death until 30 seconds after the rats’ hearts stopped beating – just like the findings found in Dr. Zemmar’s epileptic patient.

The similarities between studies are “astonishing”, Dr. Zemmar said.

They now hope the publication of this one human case may open the door to other studies on the final moments of life.

“I think there’s something mystical and spiritual about this whole near-death experience,” Dr. Zemmar said. “And findings like this – it’s a moment that scientists lives for.”

3. A Replay of Life: What Happens In Our Brain When We Die?

By Maryam Clark, Frontiers Science News, February 22, 2022

URL:  https://blog.frontiersin.org/2022/02/22/what-happens-in-our-brain-when-we-die/

Neuroscientists have recorded the activity of a dying human brain and discovered rhythmic brain wave patterns around the time of death that are similar to those occurring during dreaming, memory recall, and meditation. Now, a study published to Frontiers brings new insight into a possible organizational role of the brain during death and suggests an explanation for vivid life recall in near-death experiences.

Imagine reliving your entire life in the space of seconds. Like a flash of lightning, you are outside of your body, watching memorable moments you lived through. This process, known as ‘life recall’, can be similar to what it’s like to have a near-death experience. What happens inside your brain during these experiences and after death are questions that have puzzled neuroscientists for centuries. However, a new study published to Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience suggests that your brain may remain active and coordinated during and even after the transition to death, and be programmed to orchestrate the whole ordeal.

When an 87-year-old patient developed epilepsy, Dr. Raul Vicente of the University of Tartu, Estonia and colleagues used continuous electroencephalography (EEG) to detect the seizures and treat the patient. During these recordings, the patient had a heart attack and passed away. This unexpected event allowed the scientists to record the activity of a dying human brain for the first time ever.

Findings “challenge our understanding of when exactly life ends”

“We measured 900 seconds of brain activity around the time of death and set a specific focus to investigate what happened in the 30 seconds before and after the heart stopped beating,” said Dr. Ajmal Zemmar, a neurosurgeon at the University of Louisville, US, who organized the study.

“Just before and after the heart stopped working, we saw changes in a specific band of neural oscillations, so-called gamma oscillations, but also in others such as delta, theta, alpha, and beta oscillations.”

Brain oscillations (more commonly known as ‘brain waves’) are patterns of rhythmic brain activity normally present in living human brains. The different types of oscillations, including gamma, are involved in high-cognitive functions, such as concentrating, dreaming, meditation, memory retrieval, information processing, and conscious perception, just like those associated with memory flashbacks.

“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,” Zemmar speculated. “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.”

A source of hope

While this study is the first of its kind to measure live brain activity during the process of dying in humans, similar changes in gamma oscillations have been previously observed in rats kept in controlled environments. This means it is possible that, during death, the brain organises and executes a biological response that could be conserved across species.

These measurements are, however, based on a single case and stem from the brain of a patient who had suffered injury, seizures and swelling, which complicate the interpretation of the data. Nonetheless, Zemmar plans to investigate more cases and sees these results as a source of hope.

“As a neurosurgeon, I deal with loss at times. It is indescribably difficult to deliver the news of death to distraught family members,” he said.

“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.”

The following is the original research article:

4. Enhanced Interplay of Neuronal Coherence and Coupling in the Dying Human Brain

By Raul Vicente et al, Frontiers Science News, February 22, 2022

URL:  https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2022.813531/full

The neurophysiological footprint of brain activity after cardiac arrest and during near-death experience (NDE) is not well understood. Although a hypoactive state of brain activity has been assumed, experimental animal studies have shown increased activity after cardiac arrest, particularly in the gamma-band, resulting from hypercapnia prior to and cessation of cerebral blood flow after cardiac arrest. No study has yet investigated this matter in humans. Here, we present continuous electroencephalography (EEG) recording from a dying human brain, obtained from an 87-year-old patient undergoing cardiac arrest after traumatic subdural hematoma. An increase of absolute power in gamma activity in the narrow and broad bands and a decrease in theta power is seen after suppression of bilateral hemispheric responses. After cardiac arrest, delta, beta, alpha and gamma power were decreased but a higher percentage of relative gamma power was observed when compared to the interictal interval. Cross-frequency coupling revealed modulation of left-hemispheric gamma activity by alpha and theta rhythms across all windows, even after cessation of cerebral blood flow. The strongest coupling is observed for narrow- and broad-band gamma activity by the alpha waves during left-sided suppression and after cardiac arrest. Albeit the influence of neuronal injury and swelling, our data provide the first evidence from the dying human brain in a non-experimental, real-life acute care clinical setting and advocate that the human brain may possess the capability to generate coordinated activity during the near-death period. [Read more here]

5. The Case of Pam Reynolds

By Kevin Williams, Near-Death.com

URL:  https://near-death.com/people-have-ndes-while-brain-dead/

Near-death studies show that people have NDEs after cardiac arrest and while brain dead. Pam Reynolds underwent deep hypothermic circulatory arrest (DHCA) to remove an aneurysm from her brain. DHCA is a form of carefully managed clinical death in which heartbeat and all brain activity cease.

In 1991, at the age of 35, Reynolds underwent a rare operation to remove a giant basilar artery aneurysm in her brain that threatened her life. The size and location of the aneurysm, however, precluded its safe removal using the standard neuro-surgical techniques. She was referred to a neurosurgeon, Dr. Robert F. Spetzler, of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, who had pioneered a daring surgical procedure known as deep hypothermic cardiac arrest. It allowed Pam’s aneurysm to be excised with a reasonable chance of success. This operation, nicknamed “standstill” by the doctors who perform it, required that Pam’s body temperature be lowered to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing stopped, her brain waves flattened, and the blood drained from her head. In everyday terms, she was put to death. After removing the aneurysm, she was restored to life.

During the time that Pam was in standstill, she experienced an NDE. Her remarkably detailed veridical (i.e., verified) out-of-body observations during her surgery were later verified to be true. Her case is considered to be one of the strongest cases of veridical evidence in NDE research because of her ability to describe the unique surgical instruments, the surgical procedures used on her, and her ability to describe in detail these events while she was clinically brain dead. [Read more here]

6. Conclusion

The “dying human brain” study and the so-called “rat study” both show increased brain activity occurring after the heart stops beating and before permanent bodily death. NDE studies such as that involving the case of Pam Reynolds shows consciousness continuing after brain death, but before permanent bodily death. These studies support the existence of a biological component to NDEs. The so-called life review may be a part of this biological component. Altogether these studies give us a clue to what happens before and after brain death; but before permanent bodily death. NDEs show that consciousness does not decrease around the time of death; rather consciousness increases and continues after brain death. NDEs give us a clue to what happens after permanent bodily death. However, NDEs do not go beyond permanent irreversible bodily death.


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