a report of an 87 year old man who died while his electrical brain activity was being recorded raises the possibility that our life really does flash before our eyes. this report provides no evidence either way that it does.  

original article: Vicente et al., 2022 (Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience), reported in: The Daily Mail by Johnathan Chadwick on 23rd February 2022 & The Guardian by Nicola Davis on 23rd February 2022

this story was in episode 25 #neardeathexperience #EEG #brainwaves

the error bar says

the Guardian & Daily Mail report the unique case of an 87 year old man who had suffered brain damage, received brain surgery, then deteriorated & died several days later. the medical team were recording electrical signals from his scalp to monitor his seizures when he had a heart attack. treatment was withdrawn & he died.

recording brain activity during death has not been reported before, which is what makes this case unique. the scientists analysed the available data in a number of ways & concluded that, just before death, there is a coordinated, coherent activation of the brain that is similar to what happens during memory recall, or in rats as they die.

while the Daily Mail concluded that our lives really DO flash before our eyes as death approaches, the Guardian took a fairer, more skeptical view.

does our life flash before our eyes?


the Mail's story & perhaps the scientists' spin, claims that the coordinated brain activity happening around the time of the heart attack may provide evidence of his life flashing before his eyes. in the scientists' exact words:

"Given that cross-coupling between alpha and gamma activity is involved in cognitive processes and memory recall in healthy subjects, it is intriguing to speculate that such activity could support a last “recall of life” that may take place in the near-death state." p9

yet in the discussion section, the authors (were probably forced to) note that the patient had suffered brain damage & seizures, that he was on strong brain-altering medication, that he was unconscious & unresponsive at the time.

perhaps the patient's life flashed before his eyes. or perhaps he passed peacefully in his sleep. we will never know.


maybe speculate less


The Daily Mail: fudge - scientific story distorted

The Guardian: fact - scientific story reported well