Scientists come close to unravelling what a person feels at the moment of death
Fear of death is fear of the unknown. However, should one fear the inevitable? People who have had near-death experiences usually report feeling peaceful and calm.
Perhaps this is the brain's way of coming to terms with its mortality. Or perhaps something more complex is going on. Science alert reports that scientists have come close to unraveling the moment of passage into the beyond.
Scientists have voiced several theories to explain the feeling of blissful calm. Some scientists say it is merely physiological changes in the brain associated with cell death.
Dr Bruce Grayson, professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioural sciences at the University of Virginia and co-founder of the International Association for Near-death experiences, explained how the brain changes after a near-death experience and what this could mean for future medicine.
What people feel the moment before death
Grayson pointed out that when it comes to describing the sensation of approaching death, one should distinguish between the physical and psychological levels of perception.
Physically, it is associated with extremely painful events, including head trauma, heart attack, or respiratory failure. But psychologically, the brain tends to turn off the sensation of pain or at least erase the memory of it.
For example, Julia Nicholson, a former CEO, executive leadership expert and business consultant, said she saw the faces of her loved ones flash vividly before her eyes, one by one, during a car accident in 1980. Clinical death survivors often describe seeing dead loved ones or a bright light at the end of a tunnel.
Some have reported the process of leaving their body, flying above it, feeling physically pulled into a tunnel with a light at the end, or a spiritual encounter with a higher being.
During these afterlife experiences, people rarely report feeling fear or pain - it is usually an overwhelming sense of peace and love.
Some of these phenomena cannot be explained by science - at least not yet. But in 2022, the NDE research community received something they had never seen before: a brain scan of a dying person.
A brain scan of a dying person
In 2016, an 87-year-old man was hooked up to an electroencephalogram, or EEG, when he unexpectedly suffered a heart attack. Scientists published the results in Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience.
In the article, the researchers reported that in the 15 seconds before the man's heart attack, an EEG scan revealed high-frequency brain waves called gamma oscillations, which are thought to play a role in creating and retrieving memories. This may explain why survivors of clinical death talk about seeing their loved ones.
What a near-death experience does to the brain
During a near-death experience, the brain shows increased activity in many parts related to memory, vision, hearing, and emotions.
"This has led some people to believe that near-death experiences are simply biological, chemical reactions to the brain dying. Perhaps it's the brain's way of gradually preparing the body for death by causing feelings of euphoria and pain relief," said San Filippo, an associate professor at the National University of Luis.
Conducting research on rats, the scientists assumed that the feeling of calmness before death may be related to the flow of serotonin released by the brain.
In different age groups and among people in different countries, reports of the near-death experience are strikingly similar, especially with regard to meeting a spiritual deity or feeling involved in something greater than life on earth.
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL talked about hypotheses about where paradise might be located.
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