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This is what it feels like to die

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Joe Ellison
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Death: mysterious, morbid and something we only experience once.

Unless you’re counting Dark Souls on the PlayStation, of course, in which case 300 times.

But back to the real world - how exactly does it feel in the heightened moments before the body approaches death, and is there anything we can liken it to?

Well, according to scientists at the American Chemical Society, the various chemical reactions and cognitive events which the brain goes through right before a person’s death can be understood by putting yourself 'in the boots of a slasher victim’. A theory outlaid in the video below. 

First up there’s our old friend fear, the innate primal response alerting of us of serious trouble. Once you've been scared enough, messages are sent to a section of the brain called the hypothalamus, controlling your fight or flight response. This is what gets your adrenal glands pumped to help the body do all it can to escape danger, even making its way down to your liver to trigger some glucose in your bloodstream, which has a “sugar rush” effect.

Next comes the screaming: "We perceive screams in a completely different part of the brain to language. Unlike normal speech, screams go from your ears to the amygdala, which is the brain's emergency centre. It’s almost as though the screamer is trying to share with you the state of their brain chemistry," it adds.

Oh and don't think that just because your adrenaline levels are sky high that this makes you impervious to pain. Quite the opposite in fact, as once you’re injured, special neurons called nociceptors send messages up to the brain which then let your body know that whatever happened "needs not happen again".

Then, assuming the left side of your brain wasn't damaged in an attack by an axe murderer, something very curious happens when nearing death from fatal wounds.

Your heart stops, you’ll immediately be ‘clinically dead’ (RIP, sorry) and yet your brain is still working, entering a hyper state of perceptual-neural activity - which may also be the source of people’s near death experiences.

Finally, once you’ve "seen the light", your internal computer is fittingly "shut down" in what’s called a biological death. Game over.

We're not sure about you, but we’re going to take their word for it.

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Joe Ellison

Joe is a writer and editor. Specialising in film, food, sport, current affairs, travel writing and adept at pilfering David Brent quotes, Joe describes himself as ‘basically a chilled out entertainer’. Follow Joe on Twitter: @Chevychased 

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