Some science behind the scenes

Terminal lucidity

Terminal lucidity refers to an unexpected return of mental clarity and memory that occurs in the time shortly before death in patients suffering from severe psychiatric and neurologic disorder. This phenomenon has been noted in patients with schizophrenia, tumors, strokes, meningitis, and Alzheimer's disease.  It may be present even in cases of patients with previous mental disability. 

One of the most important conclusions from  all the case histories that now exist, is that the brain is not the mind, and that the mind can largely operate independently of the brain

Several of these accounts suggest that during terminal lucidity, memory and cognitive abilities may function by neurologic processes different from those of the normal brain. We expect that significant contributions to better understanding the processes involved in memory and cognition processing might be gained through in-depth studies of terminal lucidity.  PMID:  21764150

There are two subtypes: one that comes gradually (a week before death), and another that comes rapidly (hours before death). The former occurs in the majority of cases. There may be plenty of cases reported in literature but the term terminal lucidity just became available for search in 2009.


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