What does it actually feel like to die? It’s a question all of us want to know the answer to, but without having to go through the process to find out.
While we’ll never get to experience the sensation of dying until its too late to tell anyone about it, new research has uncovered what happens to our brains as we die, and its been given the not-at-all-terrifying moniker of the ‘death tsunami’.
By monitoring brain-damaged patients using neuromonitoring technology, experts managed to discover this ‘wave’ which passes through the brain in our final moments, spreading more light on how it shuts itself down.
After cardiac arrest and the halting of blood circulation, the brain first puts itself into a sort of ‘safe mode’, which stops brain cells from communicating with each other, then the wave begins.
Metro reports that this wave then “spreads through the cortex and other areas of the brain, triggering pathophysiological cascades which gradually poison the nerve cells”. Lovely stuff.
The good news, however, is that the wave is reversible, at least up to a point. If circulation restarts before this moment, the nerve cells are able to fully repair themselves.
Researchers call this ‘spreading depolarisation’, and its a sensation they had previously observed in animals.
The researchers said: “After circulatory arrest, spreading depolarisation marks the loss of stored electrochemical energy in brain cells and the onset of toxic processes that eventually lead to death.
“Importantly, it is reversible – up to a point – when the circulation is restored.
“Particular challenges include the slowness of this wave that hampers its visibility in normal EEG recordings; however, this discovery may lead to improved diagnostic and treatment procedures in the future.”
So there you go, when you die, your brain essentially triggers a reversible ‘death tsunami’ - and its a race against time to make it stop.