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In the past, researchers have used accounts of near-death experiences to answer what awaits us when we die. The subjective experiences had common themes. A bright light, out-of-body experiences, and encounters with deceased loved ones.
However, researchers recently stumbled upon the account of an 87-year-old patient that suffered a fatal heart attack while undergoing brain scans. This recording can shed light on what's happening in our brain just before death.
Researchers measured 900 seconds of brain activity around the time of death of the 87-year-old patient. The man's brain waves in the 30 seconds before and after his heart stopped beating were similar to when we recall memories, dreams or meditate.
Before the patient's heart stopped, there were immense changes in gamma oscillations, responsible for high-cognitive functions such as focusing and dreaming.
Theta oscillations were also observed, which is the state between wakefulness and sleep. These brain oscillations continued for 30 seconds after the patient's heart stopped.
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