ADAM CLARK ESTES
August 13, 2013
We now know slightly more about what happens after death, thanks to new research that measures the electrical activity in the brains of rats before and after cardiac arrest. Spoiler: it does not flat-line. Not immediately, anyway.
A team of researchers from the University of Michigan conducted their life-after-death study  on nine rats with electrodes connected to the surface of their brains. They were given an injection of potassium chloride stopping their heart making them clinically dead. But their brains did not die. For as long as 30 seconds after blood ceased to flow to it, the rats’ brains showed signs of activity for as long as 30 seconds after their hearts had stopped. It wasn’t just a blip here and there, either.
“We were surprised by the high levels of activity,” says anesthesiologist George Mashour, a senior author on a paper about the experiment . “In fact, at near-death, many known electrical signatures of consciousness exceeded levels found in the waking state, suggesting that the brain is capable of well-organized electrical activity during the early stage of clinical death.”