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Do we stop thinking and feeling when we die? New evidence from American researchers tends to show that the answer is not as obvious as one would like to believe…

Flashes of light, visions of loved ones: why do some people come back from the dead with memories of their own death? Today it is estimated that 10 to 20% of victims of cardiac arrest experience what is called a Near-death experience (EMI), producing various visions and sensations in individuals who are clinically deceased.

On the same subject

What happens in the brain when we die?

But are they a simple post-awakening hallucination? Or the sign of brain activity after death? A new American study published in early May 2023 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science tends to lean towards the second hypothesis.

An increase in gamma waves

People think you die when your heart stops beating Ajmal Zemmar – a neurosurgeon specializing in NDEs – tells Everyday Health. ” But this study suggests that this is not the case, because the brain displays very coordinated activities after cardiac arrest. »

Conducted by Professor Jimo Borjigin’s teams on four victims of such an arrest, the study thus reveals that two of the patients, once their ventilator was disconnected, showed an increase in their heart rate… but also in activity. of the gamma waves, particularly associated with the recall of memories. Those, for example, which skyrocket when we are confronted with images of important events in our lives (weddings, births, etc.). But that’s not all…

Religious experiences and post-mortem consciousness

Professor Borjigin’s researchers also detected these famous gamma brain waves in a very specific region of the brain: the temporo-parietal junction. Consider an area linked, among other things, to dreams and visual hallucinations, the activity of which increases ” when people think of God or have spiritual experiences “explains Ajmal Zemmar. Which would tend to prove, therefore, that NDEs are indeed the fruit of a brain activity during death. ” The brain and its owner are dying, and oxygen is very valuable during the dying process, so why would gamma activity be recorded? What is the function of these subjective experiences? Are they beneficial for survival? These are questions we still need to answer.»

If this study does not bring the slightest certainty as to the survival of a certain consciousness after death (the patients having not returned to talk about it), it allows, like others currently being carried out, to enlighten us a little. more on this crucial issue. First because it is fascinating in itself, but also because a potential answer could upset the way doctors think about death and its consequences: “ When did the patient stop being there? How long is he conscious after the heart stops? These questions have direct implications on things like the organ donation and care in end of life concludes Ajmal Zemmar. In short, the greatest mystery there is and the secrets of the brain seem more linked than ever.

Source :

Surge of neurophysiological coupling and connectivity of gamma oscillations in the dying human brainPNAS, May 2023

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