Near-Death Experiences: What’s Going On In The Brain Before Death Arrives

by Conscious Reminder

It has been studied for a long time that moments just before the death involves the heart to stop beating ceasing blood flow which causes the body to shut down. New researches, however, has a different take.

In a recently published study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, heart and brain activity of rats that were dying from lack of oxygen was recorded.

It was observed that the brain sent rapid instructions to the heart, just before the death, causing fatal damage to the organ. Interestingly, when researchers blocked this signal from the brain, the hearts of rats survived much longer.

The method followed was to subject the rats to carbon dioxide or lethal injection, to induce cardiac arrest. Using EEG the brain activity was monitored and hearts were monitored by EKG.

As the heart rates dropped off, the brain activity tended to synchronize with the heart’s activity. As soon as this happened there was a rush of neurochemicals such as dopamine produces feelings of pleasure) and norepinephrine (produces feelings of alertness).

The flow of these chemicals was blocked via severing of spinal cord to delay cardiac arrest and the animals survived three times longer than the control group. It is applicable for humans as well if their hearts are damage by similar signals.

“Whether human bodies behave similarly is the million-dollar question” this is the main concern of study co-author Jimo Borjigin, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

He also suggested a conflict that usually occurs in medical sciences that deal with death, and activity of brain and heart just before that, “People naturally focus on the heart, thinking that if you save the heart, you’ll save the brain…you have to sever [the chemical communication between] the brain and heart in order to save the heart,” which is “contrary to almost all emergency medical practice,” Borjigin told Live Science.

Nearly a half million Americans suffer cardiac arrest each year, with only about 10% surviving these incidents.

Studies show that even during cardiac arrest, brain functions still. Borjigin thinks that the flooding of the heart with signals from the brain is likely an attempt to save the heart, and may even be responsible for near-death experiences.

If the study is carried forward and the brain-heart connection can be severed, it would be possible to treat cardiac arrest in a better way. 


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