A recent study has revealed that hearing is the last sense to fade away as a person approaches death. According to Mirror, the study, published in June 2020, was conducted by researchers who monitored brain activity in patients in palliative care.
The findings suggest that even when patients are unresponsive, their brains continue to register sounds.
Researchers observed brain activity in 17 healthy control patients, eight responsive hospice patients, and five unresponsive hospice patients.
Each patient was exposed to two types of songs with five tones. One version had only five repeated tones, while the other had variations in tones or different patterns.
The study found that the brain activity patterns in unresponsive patients were similar to those in healthy patients, indicating that people still hear even when they are dying.
The importance of communication
Families of dying patients are often advised by doctors to talk to their loved ones. This is because research indicates that even when people are dying, their sense of hearing still functions.
Lawrence Ward, the study's senior author and a professor at the University of British Columbia, stated that some of these patients' auditory systems function in what appears to be close to a "normal" manner.
While the study provides evidence that the auditory systems of some actively dying patients still function, it is unclear whether these patients can understand what they are hearing.
Zachary Palace, a doctor and medical director of the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, New York, has previously stated that hearing is "the most passive sense."
He explained that doctors encourage families to speak and share their final thoughts, love, and support with their loved ones because even as blood pressure drops and they fade away, they can still hear what is being said.