Researchers Detect Intense Brain Activity In Rats After They're Dead

Researchers Detect Intense Brain Activity In Rats After They're Dead

We now know slightly more about what happens after death, thanks to new research that measures the electrical activity in the brains of rats before and after cardiac arrest. Spoiler: it does not flat-line. Well, not immediately.

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan conducted their life-after-death study on nine rats with electrodes connected to the surface of their brains. They were given an injection of potassium chloride stopping their heart making them clinically dead. But their brains did not die. For as long as 30 seconds after blood ceased to flow to it, the rats' brains showed signs of activity for as long as 30 seconds after their hearts had stopped. It wasn't just a blip here and there either.

"We were surprised by the high levels of activity," says anaesthesiologist George Mashour, a senior author on a paper about the experiment. "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-organised electrical activity during the early stage of clinical death.­­­"

They what?! The rats' brains were even more active when they were dead than they were alive? That is correct, and it is bananas. According to one of Mashour's colleagues, this is "the first scientific framework for the near-death experiences reported by many cardiac arrest survivors." That is, this is scientific evidence that might explain the feeling of the soul leaving the body, the life-flashing-before-the-eyes effect, the light at the end of the tunnel and so forth. However, there are plenty of scientific theories about what happens after clinical death, many of which attributed life-after-death experience to a surge in brain activity.

The Michigan team says that the rat study will form a foundation for further research into what happens in the human brain. So far, there haven't been comparable observations found with dying human patients, though that might be because we have tried putting sensors directly on the brain. Either way, we now know that our definition of death doesn't quite tell the whole story. [PNAS via Wired]


Comments

    Obviously its the first stages of zombiefication. Those rats should be destroyed immediately!

    I, for one, welcome our new zombie rat overlords.

      This joke never ceases to be funny, no matter how many times I hear it per day! :D

    I thoght they did some tests whith French guilitine victims during the revoloution that displayed simmilar results.

      They were hardly clinical tests - the holding of the head by the executioner was to provoke a final shock response and humiliation of seeing their own body slumped on the ground, without a head.

    I have always maintained that death only occurs when the brain stops working.
    Just because the heart is stopped, doesn't mean your brain stops immediately, and we "reside" in our brains, not our other organs including the heart.

    It's always mystified me why simply not breathing or no heartbeat is taken as a definitive check for actual "death".

    We're only dead when our brain is.

      Finally someone who gets it, it always annoys me when people say that CPR "brings people back to life", when obviously it only works as long as there is still brain activity, meaning that the person is still alive.

      This. I imagine the rats brains are still functioning until all the last remaining oxygen in the local blood and tissue is exhausted. I'd also think the spike in activity is the brain's "oh shit something went wrong" response, trying to work out what happened and correct how to fix itself.

    Stands to reason when you think about it. It's electricity that actually runs the system and so long as the bodies capacitor equivalent has a bit of charge in it you should get brain activity. Not that I've personally experienced it of course.. :)

    Buuuut, surely you're not dead until your brain activity ceases. That might not be until some time after you heart stops. I refer to the stories recorded by researchers into guillotine victims. The heads appeared to be able to hear and understand some time after getting the chop. Sooo... what's new here?? Is the heightened brain activity called "panic"??

      It's really a technicality that they are playing on.
      My gran was taught as a nurse "The absence of life does not mean the presence of death", which during the Blitz was something she got to put into practical use.

      Here, they are using clinically dead - ie the heart has irreversibly stopped, but the body is not completely dead.

    Sure....their brain activity is more active when dead than alive.....Then what? They die off afterwards anyway.

    It's not as well they can capture/measure/quantify there is continual existence of these energy waves to prove there is a soul/afterlife.

    A spike in the electrical wave meter really doesn't mean anything.

    Folks...sorry to bust your bubble, there is nothing after death. =p

      That's an odd thing to say given that it's impossible to prove either way. My kids ask me all the time what happens when you die. My response is that only the dead know.

      They were recording brain activity not just brain waves. In other words when you are alive your brain activity can be read in the form of different types of waves, alpha beta theta delta and from those they can determine if you are conscious dreaming or unconscious...

    Can't forget the body dumps a heap of DMT into the system too.
    Hence the whole seeing god halusinations.

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