Skip to main content

Death is perhaps one of the most universally discussed topics across the board, and at least once in our lives, the vast majority of us wonder what happens during our final moments. For a long time, we haven’t had many answers, well, that is until now.

One of the most common ‘rumors’ about death is that right before our final moment, our life flashes before our eyes. And recent research may offer some interesting answers that indicate this theory isn’t far from the truth.

The research was carried out by accident, as they had intended to study the brainwaves of an 87-year-old patient with epilepsy. However, during their research, the patient ended up suffering from a fatal heart attack. During the death of the patient, their brainwaves were recorded up until the moment of death.

What they found was that during the 30 seconds before and after death, the brainwaves of the patient had the same structure as that of when we are recalling memories.

This suggests that during our final moments, we do watch our lives flash before our eyes.

The research was published in the Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience, and a co-author of the study, Dr. Ajmal Zemmar spoke with the BBC about the study.

“This was actually totally by chance, we did not plan to do this experiment or record these signals.”

Unfortunately, of course, the researchers could only observe that memories were being recalled, not the type of memory.

“If I were to jump to the philosophical realm, I would speculate that if the brain did a flashback, it would probably like to remind you of good things, rather than the bad things,” he says.

According to the paper itself, “Given that cross-coupling between alpha and gamma activity is involved in cognitive processes and memory recall in healthy subjects, it is intriguing to speculate that such activity could support a last ‘recall of life’ that may take place in the near-death state.”

While the study was just recently published, it was actually carried out in 2016.

And while Zemmar had hoped to have found other case studies he could compare this situation to and even compare it to, he was unable to. What he did say was that it was his hope he could provide some sort of comfort to the families of a dying patient.

“These families have an unimaginable amount of pain in these moments. They are in freefall,” he explained. “If I can contribute to telling them that your loved one at this moment doesn’t have pain, they’re fine, they’re experiencing the most memorable moments of your life before they go, I think that would mean a lot and comfort my patients.”