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What happens inside your mind as you're dying is terrifying

What happens inside your mind as you're dying is terrifying

Scientists claim your brain experiences a 'surge' in activity when you experience your final moments.

It’s the age-old question that still divides scholars and scientists - what happens inside your mind as you’re dying?

Many who have reported near-death experiences claim to have been floating above their bodies, witnessed barrelling down dark tunnels to bright light or met spirits and dead relatives on an astral plane.

But as these otherworldly occurrences are often viewed through a religious or spiritual lens, researchers have been trying for decades to pinpoint exactly what happens to the mind in its final moments.

In 2023, technologists from the University of Michigan observed comatose patients to see if there was a neural surge in the minutes before death.

This study - led by Jimo Borjigin, associate professor at the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology and the Department of Neurology at the University of Michigan - was building on results from ten years before which focused on spiked brain activity in rats.

It’s said that Professor Borjigin’s team observed a ‘natural’ and organized surge in two of the four comatose people which could link to ‘the subjective experiences of people who survive cardiac arrest.’

Andriy Onufriyenko/SCIEPRO/Getty
Andriy Onufriyenko/SCIEPRO/Getty

She claimed this peculiar brain surge was detected in the temporal-parietal junction (TPJ) brain region.

The TPJ is associated with dreaming, hallucinations, and altered states of consciousness, as per Medical the National Institutes of Health.

The recent research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal, claims it’s still impossible to know what patients experience during these brain surges.

However, the increased activity registered in the TPJ could help explain why some people who suffer near-death experiences claim to have seen vivid images.

“I think that we have potentially at least defined or discovered minimum anatomical steps to neurosignatures of covert consciousness,” said Professor Borjigin.

“We’d like to be able to study human subjects under less devastating circumstances, where the patients are known to be able to survive and then tell the story where they can correlate their brain signature with a subjective experience.”

Elsewhere, scientists studying a brain in its dying minutes have previously recorded highly organized gamma waves.

Researchers were monitoring the brain patterns of an 87-year-old patient before his heart stopped and found a surge in gamma rays for 30 seconds before and after his death.

According to the University of Texas Medical Branch, this could indicate that a person is conscious as they die.

Moreover, this activity could be linked to memory, cognition and attention, but further study is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.

Unfortunately, scientists have yet to prove exactly what happens to your brain in its dying minutes.

However, further advancements in medical technology and neuroscience should allow researchers to probe deeper.

Regardless, it sounds like dying is a terrifying and intense experience.

Featured Image Credit: Andriy Onufriyenko/SCIEPRO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via Getty