Life after death? Brain activity sometimes mimics ‘deep sleep’

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When the heart stops, the body is declared dead, but this isn’t always absolute…New research has now added another piece to the puzzle, with one patient showing evidence of brain activity as much as ten minutes after death.

Scientists from the University of Western Ontario in Canada studied what happened when four patients in an intensive care unit died. They were all on life support, and the research team monitored their brain activity — measuring something called frontal electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings — when the machines were turned off.

The paper says three patients showed no further activity as soon as the life support machine was turned off, but something intriguing happened with the fourth patient — they appeared to give off the same kind of brain waves we experience when we’re in a deep sleep, called “delta wave bursts.”

The researchers are careful to note that they can’t gain too much information from the results, but they did conclude death could be a unique experience for each person. This is because there were very few similarities between the brain activity of the four patients before and after their death.

 

[The study can be found here.]

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