The question about what happens after death is a mystery. However, it has recently been noted that individuals who are close to death often engage in a sudden flurry of activity in the final days of their lives.
People are known to do strange things that they normally wouldn’t do such as make amends in troubled relationships, confess transgressions and put their financial affairs in order on the very eve of their death. Some have even suggested that the acts themselves might have a profound psychological effect on the person which leads them to ‘give in’ to their death.
Some people argue that this is purely coincidence while other are confident people know when death is near. It is only natural to try to understand the death of someone we love or make sense of what happens in those final moments. Scientists know when someone dies, the body immediately begins to break down.
Putrescine, for example, is a foul and toxic scent; the result of decomposition. Researchers have come to realize humans subconsciously recognize this putrefying odor. Not only that, the scent, when released, causes an immediate response.
A study conducted by Arnaud Wisman from the University of Kent’s school of Psychology in Canterbury, UK and Ilan Shira from the Department of Behavioral Sciences in Arkansas’ Tech University in Russellville, AK have discovered animals and humans might not be so different after all.
The ability to detect chemical scents is part of survival across the species. The threat of death is revealed through smell to humans.
The study assessed human behavior when exposed to putrescine. They exposed participants in their experiment to three different smells, water, which has a neutral smell, ammonia which has a sharp and unpleasant odor and of course putrescine.
It was found that participants who were exposed to the putrescine odor were immediately prone to move away from the area as though they believed it was dangerous. This suggests that the primal regions of their brain recognized the smell like the scent of death and compelled them to move away from the vicinity of the smell in case something close by might pose danger to them.
Given the fact that humans can detect and understand the odor of putrescine, this might cast some new light on the behavior of individuals in their final days.