Scientists identify the origin of “wave of death” in dying brains for the first time

Scientists identify the origin of “wave of death” in dying brains for the first time

Scientists have for the first time pinpointed the origin of the “wave of death” – the shutdown sequence that begins in the brain when it starts to die.

The Discovery – Chemicals and electricity sweep the brain as it dies

By implanting probes in rats’ brains and recording electrical and chemical activity as they died, researchers found a flood of chemicals sweeps through first, followed by a wave of electrical activity, before the brain goes silent.

Lead author Dr. Séverine Mahon said this shows dying is a process that can potentially be reversed up to a still unknown “point of no return”.

Understanding Brain Death – It’s not an instant “on/off switch”

The study challenges the idea that death is like flipping a light switch. Instead, different brain regions start shutting down via unique signals as oxygen supply drops.

Finding when loss of consciousness becomes irreversible remains unclear.

Recording Dying Brains – Probes track cortical activity in rats

In the experiment, dying rats taken off ventilators had probes in their somatosensory cortex, which processes senses and movement, recording what occurred.

Mysterious Wave Patterns Emerge – Gamma/beta waves linked to consciousness

Right before flatlining, intense gamma and beta brain wave activity emerges, typically tied to consciousness and memory. But rats were unconscious, puzzling scientists on its purpose.

The Wave of Death – Electrical surge marks final shutdown

Then a powerful electrical “wave of death” radiates as neurons die off. This highlights the transition toward all brain function ending.

Pinpointing the Origin – Wave begins deep in somatosensory cortex

By comparing electrical activity, they determined the wave originates in layer 5 neurons of the cortex, before spreading. This could allow targeted protections.

Potential Resuscitation – Understanding process allows interventions

If the wave of death can be prevented from advancing, brain damage may be limited after injuries. More work is still needed to apply this for treatment.

Conclusion – Death a gradual biochemical process

The study illustrates physiological death is a gradual process versus an instant off-switch we can strictly separate from life. Further research on reversing this transition is warranted.

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