One of the great mysteries of life is what happens after we die. It turns out that new research is revealing insights into the neurological basis for life continuing in some kind of form after death.

According to a new study by Canadian doctors, brain activity continued for more than 10 minutes after the body appeared to have died.

While the results are preliminary, the suggest the following:

A person’s brain continues working even after they are declared to be clinically dead.

What did the doctors observe?

In this particular case, doctors confirmed their patient was dead from a range of usual observations, including the absence of a pulse and pupils that weren’t reacting. Yet tests shows the brain was experiencing the kind of brain waves that are seen during deep sleep.

The study noted the findings may result in new medical and ethical challenges. Doctors reported that they had seen “single delta wave bursts persisted following the cessation of both the cardiac rhythm and arterial blood pressure (ABP)”. The findings are reported in a new study published by a team from the University of Western Ontario.

Four people were subjects of the study, and only one exhibited the long-lasting and mysterious brain activity. Activity in most of the patients died off before their heart stopped beating. But everyone’s brains behaved differently in the minutes after they died, which added to the mystery of what happens after death.

The doctors weren’t sure what the purpose of the brain activity is, and cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from such a small sample. They did note that it’s difficult to think the activity results from mistaken measurements given that their equipment was working fine.

What happens after death?

Researchers previously believed that brain activity ended in one huge mysterious surge about a minute after death. However, those studies were based on rats and no comparable surge has been observed in humans.

“We did not observe a delta wave within 1 minute following cardiac arrest in any of our four patients,” they write in the new study.

What happens to the body and mind after death is almost entirely a mystery to scientists. There have been recent studies, for instance, that demonstrated that genes appears to continue functioning in the days after people die. In some cases the genes function even more energetically after death.

What happens after death will continue to be one of the great mysteries, and some of the world’s religions have interesting things to say about it. Consider this article about the Buddhist perspective of life after death:

 

What Zen Buddhism Has To Say About Death and the Afterlife