Sorry for the morbid question.
September 23, 2011 8:43 AM Subscribe
Hospice and palliative-care providers often tell patients' families and friends that as people die, hearing is the last sense to go. Is there any science behind the claim?
posted by evidenceofabsence to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The idea that hearing is the last sense to go as a person dies seems kind of fishy to me. I know that it's generally offered as a comfort to the soon-to-be bereaved, enabling them to speak their feelings, and to have some sense of communication and closure. Which is a good thing.
That said, I was wondering if neuroscience has a general understanding of how the brain shuts down during end-stage terminal illness, in terms of localized brain death. Are there similarities in the course of brain death across patient groups? Are some cortices or gyri likely to be affected sooner than others? Is "hearing goes last" referring to auditory brainstem response? Something else?