Life may actually flash before your eyes before death, UofL neurosurgeon says

A researcher studying brain wave recordings of a dying patient has discovered scientific evidence that these experiences could be real.
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 6:07 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2022 at 9:05 PM CST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - People have long told stories about how a near-death experience can cause their life to flash before their eyes. Now, a University of Louisville researcher studying brain wave recordings of a dying patient has discovered scientific evidence that these experiences could be real.

“Nobody ever recorded from a dying human brain,” UofL neurosurgeon Dr. Ajmal Zemmar said. “This is the first time that we’re doing that. So what we knew before was these experiences people would tell us about near death, but nobody knew what the brain would do.”

Zemmar’s recording revealed that the patient’s brainwaves showed he was dreaming or recalling memories 30 seconds before and 30 seconds after his heart stopped. According to Zemmar, it implies that as people die, their last thoughts are a replay of events from their lives.

Zemmar was part of a Canadian team of doctors who recently published a study that challenges a slew of preconceived notions about our final moments on Earth. It calls into question the medically accepted definition of death as the cessation of heartbeat.

”We have opened the door to discussing,” Zemmar said. “Is it enough to measure heart activity of patients in the ICU, or should we talk and discuss about the paradigm shift to say we need to measure brain activity as well? When are we really dead?”

So, when do people truly die? According to Zemmar, that answer may still be a long way off. His research is based solely on the findings of one patient who died six years ago. Similar results have been discovered in rat studies, but capturing that critical moment in a dying human brain remains nearly impossible.

”From my perspective,” Zemmar said, “I would ideally like to have a healthy human being who is on the transition phase of death and I would record the signals of their brain to know what is going on. That would be just me as a scientist looking at this. It is impossible to go and find somebody to say are you going to come and let me do an experiment to record from your brain just before you die? You can’t plan this.”

However, it has the ability to get people talking, which is what his study has done. Zemmar said he received interview requests from news outlets all over the world 48 hours after publishing in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience on Tuesday.

Part of the fascination stems from personal beliefs that near-death experiences are part of a spiritual transition to an afterlife.

”On the spiritual side,” Zemmar said, “I think my preference would be to leave it to everybody to say. I’m saying this is what we have, and everybody has to decide what they want to do with it and how they want to imagine the last moments of life.”

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