This Is What Happens to Our Brains as We Are Dying

This Is What Happens to Our Brains as We Are Dying

According to neuroscientists, this is what happens to your brain on your deathbed.

What happens to us when we die is one of life's greatest mysteries. Experts have been trying to understand what happens to our bodies during this time.

According to neuroscientist Jimo Borjigin, even after the heart stops beating, the brain remains active. This could explain why some people on the brink of death see "the light" or experience life flashbacks.

Borjigin, who had never closely studied the brain at the moment of death, stumbled upon a revelation when two rats she was monitoring unexpectedly died. Connected to machines, these rats showed a massive release of serotonin, the happiness neurotransmitter, in their brains. Intrigued, Borjigin decided to investigate what happens in the human brain during death. Her findings challenge previous beliefs about death.

During a cardiac arrest, a person collapses and becomes unresponsive. If no pulse is found, it indicates clinical death. Previously, it was believed that the brain becomes inactive due to lack of oxygen. However, Borjigin's studies on rats in 2013 and 2015 revealed significant increases in serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine after the heart stopped. The brain was far from inactive; it activated at levels higher than when the animals were alive.

In 2023, research on four human patients in comas and on life support, who were allowed to pass away by their families, showed high brain activity seconds after life support was removed. Gamma waves, associated with complex information processing and memory, were found. Unlike rats, only parts of the human brain activated, particularly areas related to dreams, visual hallucinations, language, speech, and hearing.

Patients on the brink of death often report life-changing experiences. Some have life flashbacks or remember key moments, while others see "the light" or feel out of body. Borjigin believes these experiences are related to her discovery. Instead of shutting down, the brain remains highly active during the dying process.

"How is it possible for a person to have extremely emotional, impressive mental experiences, like seeing a light, hearing voices, feeling out of body, floating in the air? All of that is part of brain function," she says. Borjigin suggests this is just the tip of a massive iceberg and calls for more research to understand the brain's continued activity after the heart stops, which could prevent premature death diagnoses.