In an effort to resolve the mystery of what happens in the brains of individuals that report near death experiences, a team of researchers with the University of Michigan have discovered mysterious bursts of what appear to be conscious activity in the brainwave recordings of two patients as they died.

“While the loss of overt consciousness is invariably associated with cardiac arrest, it is unclear whether patients can possess covert consciousness during the dying process,” the researchers state in their study paper. Despite NDEs being “reported to be highly lucid, ‘realer than real,’ and common to people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds,” the paper admits that “NDE represent a biological paradox that challenges our fundamental understanding of the dying brain, which is widely believed to be nonfunctioning under such conditions.”

Ever since the team, led by neurologist Jimo Borjigin, recorded anomalous gamma wave activity in the brains of lab animals whose hearts had stopped in 2013, they have been looking to confirm that a similar phenomenon occurs in humans at the moment of death. Needless to say, they couldn’t take the route the characters of the 1990 film Flatliners followed—deliberately stopping the hearts of the participants to simulate death.

Instead, the researchers searched medical databases for records of instances where patients who had their neural oscillations, better known as brainwave patterns, recorded while they died; events such as this are understandably rare, but they were able to recover the electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings of four comatose patients that were being removed from life support in 2014. These brainwave patterns were analyzed both “before and after the clinical withdrawal of their ventilatory support,” according to the study paper.

As they died, two of the patients “exhibited a rapid and marked surge of gamma power” across specific regions of their brains, including the “temporo–parieto–occipital (TPO) junctions,” the regions where these three lobes connect, and a junction that is associated with numerous high-level functions. The recordings also displayed “directed connectivity” between their respective brains’ hemispheres via these sudden gamma oscillations.

Gamma waves are patterns of neurological activity that pulse between 25 and 140 times per second; they are associated with states of waking consciousness where functions such as concentration, perception and working memory are active. Such activity in comatose patients—who should exhibit the delta and theta patterns associated with sleep and REM states—is unusual, considering gamma patterns are typically only seen in individuals that are awake.

A potential seizure was ruled out as the cause of the strange burst of activity, leading the team to suspect that they may have stumbled upon a possible signal for consciousness in the subjects, despite their comatose states, and might be indicative of what near death experiencers report when they are revived.

However, they acknowledge that past discoveries of such markers have “proved illusory,” with science having no real way to determine what a given individual is or isn’t experiencing from just looking at their EEG.

“Although the marked activation of the posterior hot zone in the dying brain is suggestive of elevated conscious processing in these patients, it does not demonstrate it,” the researchers point out; they also “cannot rule out the possibility that the surge of gamma power is a sign of a pathological process unique to the dying stage and unrelated to conscious processing.”

While the mystery surrounding the relationship between consciousness and the human brain persists, Anne Strieber has something to say about the subject of life after death, offering insight into her experience after having passed away in 2015 in her 2017 book (co-authored by her husband, Whitley Strieber) The Afterlife Revolution.

Image Credits:
News Source:
Dreamland Video podcast
To watch the FREE video version on YouTube, click here.

Subscribers, to watch the subscriber version of the video, first log in then click on Dreamland Subscriber-Only Video Podcast link.


  1. I had an accident rock climbing as a young man, and for a moment was convinced i was going to die.

    At that moment i had a profound life review, exactly as its described my entire life flashed before my eyes, and i mean everything, every memory all at once and in the blink of an eye.

    I couldnt begin to explain it, its something that you have to experience yourself

  2. I never had a NDE, even though I’ve come close to dying…But, I’ve had one of those unexplainable downloads where I know everything, go “Wow!”, then promptly forget it all. It’s hard to explain, but I know of others that have experienced it too, including Grant Cameron.

    Consciousness is the biggest mystery.

Leave a Reply