By Catherine Brown–

A University of Louisville doctor and medical researcher conducted a study that may prove the “life review” theory – the concept that one’s life “flashes before their eyes” as they die.

In television and movies, “life review” is a trope used for comedic or dramatic narrative purposes. For researchers, this study could provide an understanding into the poorly understood process of death and dying.

Ajmal Zemmar, a neurosurgeon and assistant professor of neurosurgery at the U of L medical school, organized the study.

Raul Vicente, a neuroscientist and professor of data at the University of Tartu in Estonia, and his team were treating an 87 year-old man for epilepsy. To do this, the physicians hooked the patient to an electroencephalography (EEG) to study brain waves related to seizure activity.

During the procedure, however, the patient had a heart attack and died. This unexpected and unfortunate death incidentally became the first known recorded brain scan of a dying person.

After reviewing a scan of the brain waves, researchers came to an interesting discovery that might change the way science understands the dying process.

The measurements of brain waves within 30 seconds before and after the man’s death suggest a relationship between parts of the brain that are active during death and those which are responsible for memories and retrieval.

“Through generating oscillations involved in memory retrieval, the brain may be playing a last recall of important life events just before we die, similar to the ones reported in near-death experiences,” said Zemmar.

In essence, the study’s findings point to a possibility that humans experience flashes of memories in the moments before death.

“Something we may learn from this research is although our loved ones have their eyes closed and are ready to leave us to rest, their brains may be replaying some of the nicest moments they experienced in their lives,” said Zemmar.

Photo Courtesy // Flickr