Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Electrical signatures of consciousness in the dying brain

Date:
August 12, 2013
Source:
University of Michigan Health System
Summary:
About 20 percent of cardiac arrest survivors report having a near death experience with visions and perceptions, but are the experiences real? A new study suggests the dying brain is capable of well-organized electrical activity during the early stages of clinical death. The study provides the first scientific framework for the near-death experience.

Dramatization of an imagined "near-death" experience following a heart attack (stock image). The brain is assumed to be inactive during cardiac arrest. However, the neurophysiological state of the brain immediately following cardiac arrest had not been systemically investigated until now. New research suggests the "near-death experience" reported by cardiac arrest survivors worldwide may be grounded in science.
Credit: © imageegami / Fotolia

The "near-death experience" reported by cardiac arrest survivors worldwide may be grounded in science, according to research at the University of Michigan Health System.

Related Articles


Whether and how the dying brain is capable of generating conscious activity has been vigorously debated.

But in this week's PNAS Early Edition, a U-M study shows shortly after clinical death, in which the heart stops beating and blood stops flowing to the brain, rats display brain activity patterns characteristic of conscious perception.

"This study, performed in animals, is the first dealing with what happens to the neurophysiological state of the dying brain," says lead study author Jimo Borjigin, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular and integrative physiology and associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

"It will form the foundation for future human studies investigating mental experiences occurring in the dying brain, including seeing light during cardiac arrest," she says.

Approximately 20 percent of cardiac arrest survivors report having had a near-death experience during clinical death. These visions and perceptions have been called "realer than real," according to previous research, but it remains unclear whether the brain is capable of such activity after cardiac arrest.

"We reasoned that if near-death experience stems from brain activity, neural correlates of consciousness should be identifiable in humans or animals even after the cessation of cerebral blood flow," she says.

Researchers analyzed the recordings of brain activity called electroencephalograms (EEGs) from nine anesthetized rats undergoing experimentally induced cardiac arrest.

Within the first 30 seconds after cardiac arrest, all of the rats displayed a widespread, transient surge of highly synchronized brain activity that had features associated with a highly aroused brain.

Furthermore, the authors observed nearly identical patterns in the dying brains of rats undergoing asphyxiation.

"The prediction that we would find some signs of conscious activity in the brain during cardiac arrest was confirmed with the data," says Borjigin, who conceived the idea for the project in 2007 with study co-author neurologist Michael M. Wang, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurology and associate professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the U-M.

"But, we were surprised by the high levels of activity," adds study senior author anesthesiologist George Mashour, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of anesthesiology and neurosurgery at the U-M. " In fact, at near-death, many known electrical signatures of consciousness exceeded levels found in the waking state, suggesting that the brain is capable of well-organized electrical activity during the early stage of clinical death.­­­"

The brain is assumed to be inactive during cardiac arrest. However the neurophysiological state of the brain immediately following cardiac arrest had not been systemically investigated until now.

The current study resulted from collaboration between the labs of Borjigin and Mashour, with U-M physicist UnCheol Lee, Ph.D., playing a critical role in analysis.

"This study tells us that reduction of oxygen or both oxygen and glucose during cardiac arrest can stimulate brain activity that is characteristic of conscious processing," says Borjigin. "It also provides the first scientific framework for the near-death experiences reported by many cardiac arrest survivors."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jimo Borjigin et al. Surge of Neurophysiological Coherence and Connectivity in the Dying Brain. PNAS, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1308285110

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan Health System. "Electrical signatures of consciousness in the dying brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812153553.htm>.
University of Michigan Health System. (2013, August 12). Electrical signatures of consciousness in the dying brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812153553.htm
University of Michigan Health System. "Electrical signatures of consciousness in the dying brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812153553.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins