Neuroscientists from all over the world have uncovered the mysteries of the brain. A team of researchers has now identified an enigmatic increase in brain activity in two individuals who were on the verge of death and as they transitioned into death.
Researchers have spent a significant amount of time attempting to comprehend the science of the brain and what occurs in its final moments before it closes down completely and a person dies. Previous animal studies have demonstrated an increase in gamma waves during cardiac and respiratory arrest.
To better understand what occurs in the brain during the final moments of a person’s life, scientists from the University of Michigan analyzed the electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) signals of four deceased patients before and after ventilatory support was withdrawn. Four of the patients were in a coma.
A PNAS study found widespread hypoxia with increased gamma activity in two cases.
“Brain function during cardiac arrest is not well understood. “While loss of overt consciousness is invariably associated with cardiac arrest, it is unknown whether patients can retain covert consciousness during the dying process,” scientists wrote in a paper.
Since 2014, scientists analyzed cases of patients who died in the neuro-intensive care unit at Michigan Medicine, the academic medical facility of the University of Michigan. They observed a sudden increase in gamma waves in one region of the brain that established a connection between the two hemispheres.
The initial location of the gamma wave was in a region of the brain known as the heated zone, which has previously been associated with dreaming and seizure patients who report visual hallucinations. The heated zone is a region of the brain believed to be essential for conscious processing.
Due to the elevated gamma waves, the patients did not survive to describe what they saw.
“While the mechanisms and physiological significance of these findings remain to be thoroughly explored, these data demonstrate that the brain of a person who is dying can still be active. They also imply that the role of the brain during cardiac arrest must be reevaluated,” the team concluded in their paper.