The brain’s swan song: hyperactivity near death

We often think of death as flipping a switch: one minute you’re there, next all lights go out. But this is a simple caricature of the dying process: sparks of activity still linger in the brains of those undergoing cardiac arrest, in whom both breath and heartbeat flutter and abruptly halt. Researchers have long thought that these sad, sparse bouts of activity characterize the brain’s descent into permanent unconsciousness. However, a new study suggests that the complete opposite – a surge of heightened connectivity – paradoxically marks the final step towards death. Although a long (and I mean LOOOONG!) stretch, the authors propose that the observation may partially underlie the enigmatic near-death experience (NDE).

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