Scientists are getting closer to understanding what happens to the human brain when we die thanks to the first-ever recording of a dying brain. According to research published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, life may flash before our eyes before death.

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The finding was made entirely by chance. According to the BBC, neuroscientists were examining the brainwaves of an 87-year-old patient who had acquired epilepsy – but when the patient suffered a heart attack during the procedure, the scientists were treated to an unexpected recording of a dying human brain.

The recording revealed unusual brain activity in the memory retrieval region, implying that we may remember our life one more time before we die.

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According to Dr Ajmal Zemmar, a co-author of the study, the patient’s brainwaves “followed the same patterns as when we perform high-cognitive demanding tasks, such as focusing, dreaming, or recalling memories” in the 30 seconds before his brain stopped getting blood.

After the patient’s heart stopped beating, this lasted for 30 seconds. “This might perhaps be a last recollection of memories from our lives that loop through our brain in the few seconds before we die,” Dr Zemmar suggested.

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“Just before and after the heart stopped pumping, we detected alterations in a specific band of brain oscillations, so-called gamma oscillations, but also in others such as delta, theta, alpha, and beta oscillations,” he explained.

“By creating oscillations involved in memory retrieval, the brain may be playing a final recall of crucial life events shortly before we die, similar to those recorded in near-death experiences,” Dr Zemmar said to Frontiers Science News. “These findings call into question our concept of when exactly life ends and raise crucial follow-up considerations, such as the timing of organ donation.”