Movies and other media often depict people as seeing flashbacks of their lives during their last dying moments.
But now researchers at the University of Louisville have stumbled upon evidence that it might actually happen.
They gained this insight when an 87-year-old patient suffered a fatal heart attack while undergoing brain scans. The unexpected course of events left researchers to interpret the brain wave patterns of a dying human brain.
“Unfortunately, he sustained a cardiac arrest and died, which left us with a rare data set recording from life to death,” says Dr. Ajmal Zemmar, a neurosurgeon at the University of Louisville and the organizer of a study on the role of the brain during death.
Brain May Recall Important Life Events
Zemmar noted that while other studies have recorded the brain activity of patients experiencing heart failure, or other near-death experiences, this discovery was among the first to explore brain waves from life to death in detail.
“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 in an interview with reporter Maryam Clark of Frontiers Science News.
“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.”