New Study Claims Human Brains Continue Working For Up To 10 Minutes After Death

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Huge medical and ethical implications could arise based on the new research, such as organ donation.

A new study is claiming that after the body appears to have died, brain activity may continue for more than 10 minutes.

Brain activity after death:

Canadian Intensive care doctors have noticed a person’s brain continuing to work even after they were declared clinically dead. This new study was published by a team from the University of Western Ontario.

Doctors have confirmed that their patient was dead through a series of normal observations, one of which is the absence of a pulse and unreactive pupils. However, tests showed that the patients’ brain kept working, it was undergoing the same type of brain waves seen during deep sleep.

The findings potentially lead to a new medical and ethical challenges, as per the study. Doctors described seeing “single delta wave bursts persisted following the cessation of both the cardiac rhythm and arterial blood pressure (ABP)”.

The long-lasting and mysterious brain activity, was exhibited in one of the four people studied. Patients who died before their heart stopped beating, had the most activity. However, all of their brains behaved differently in the minutes following their death, which added more mystery to the matter.

Small sample:

The doctors don’t know the reason or goal of the activity, however, they have warned against drawing too many conclusions from such a small sample. But they stated that given all the equipment was working fine, it’s hard to consider the activity a mistake.

Previously, researchers thought that brain activity ended in one big mysterious surge around a minute after death, but those studies were done on rats, and the research didn’t find any comparable effect in humans. The researchers wrote in the study that they did not observe “a delta wave” within one minute following cardiac arrest in any of their four patients.

Scientists are still puzzled and curious about what happens to the body and mind after death. For instance, last year, two studies demonstrated that genes continued functioning, more energetically even, in the days after people die.