Brain activity recorded as much as 10 minutes after death

University of Western Ontario researchers examined the electrical activity in several patients before and after their life support was turned off and they were declared clinically dead, when the heart had stopped beating. In one patient, brain waves, in the form of single delta wave bursts, continued for minutes after death.

"It is difficult to posit a physiological basis for this EEG activity given that it occurs after a prolonged loss of circulation," the researchers write in their scientific paper. "These waveform bursts could, therefore, be artefactual in nature, although an artefactual source could not be identified."

This kind of research in the niche field of necroneuroscience is relevant to ethical discussions around organ donation and how the moment of death is defined.

(Neuroskeptic via Daily Grail)

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  1. Ha, because death wasn't scary enough.

    Pain... nothing but pain and coldness. I knew I was dying, but I wasn't ready for how much it would hurt. Please, god, something, stop the pain.

    That light... that warm, beautiful light... I know it's in my imagination but if I could just reach it I think all my pain would go away... Here it comes, wonderful sweet oblivion!

    Oops, wait, no, I'm back in my shitty dead body. Just what I wanted, another half a second of consciousness.

    Here comes the light again! This time I'm going to stay within it. Finally, this is the end of my pain!

    Wrong again. Wow, you'd think being trapped in a room temperature brain for fractions of a second at a time would be less annoying.

    Finally, glorious nothingne--

    Ahhhh fuck this is getting old.

  2. This terrifies me. Thanks for posting.

  3. Ya' know if we can only get Brain Activity while humans are alive, well that would be something.

  4. Research was further hindered by a shortage of volunteers for the next round of testing.

  5. Rives says:

    It makes sense. After the cessation of cardiovascular activity, you will have a lack of oxygen arriving at tissues. This means your cells can no longer undergo NEW cellular respiration and thus can't produce NEW ATP for the cell. But there should be some residual ATP around, and even after you run out of oxygen you have glycolysis and lactic acid fermentation for a while.
    Eventually you will enter a hypoxic crisis, and an energetic crisis, but that takes time. Acidosis becomes a problem faster because you aren't removing CO2, which becomes carbonic acid.
    The lack of ATP means you can't control ion gradients, so cells will swell from shifted osmotic gradients.

    All of this takes time. It makes sense that a few cells with proximity to any remaining oxygen sources could fire as much as 10 minutes after cessation of the heart pump.

    For those of you who are worried or afraid of this, I think loss of consciousness would happen before the cellular swelling would get bad. You'll pass out first.

    I'm just reasoning this out here. I'm an anatomist and I teach pathophysiology, so I'm probably reasoning pretty well, but any scientists feel free to chime in on time frames for hydropic swelling, for example.

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