Dying brains: will our last hurrah be an explosion of conscious experience?

What does it feel like to die? Most of us have no idea, but around 1 in 10 people who survive a cardiac arrest report having near death experiences (NDEs). These can range from relived memories to vivid experiences of light, sound, and emotion.

An interesting new study by Jimo Borjigin and colleagues at the University of Michigan, published in PNAS, may help explain what happens in the brain immediately before death. The researchers induced cardiac arrest in rats while measuring electrical activity in the brain using electroencephalography (EEG). What they found was remarkable: before death, activity in a particular frequency called the gamma band more than doubled in power compared to when the animals were awake.

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