Brain Death Is Legal Death
If someone’s brain dead, the damage is irreversible and, according to UK law, the person has died.
It can be confusing to be told someone has brain death, because their life support machine will keep their heart beating and their chest will still rise and fall with every breath from the ventilator.
But they will not ever regain consciousness or start breathing on their own again. They have already died.
Brain Death And Organ Donation
In some cases, a person who is brain dead may be a candidate for organ donation. If the person was a registered organ donor, or if their family knew of their wish to be an organ donor, their death is declared, but the ventilator is left on. Drugs that help preserve the internal organs are still given. The dead person then undergoes an operation to remove viable organs such as kidneys. After the operation is complete, the ventilator is switched off. Funeral arrangements can then be made by the family.
Postmortem Gene Expression And Neurological Disorders
In a news release, researcher Dr. Jeffrey Loeb explained that the postmortem behavior of glial cells isnt particularly surprising. They are inflammatory and their job is to clean things up after brain injuries like oxygen deprivation or stroke, Loeb said. However, the implications of the findings could be profoundly important to the study of neurological disorders. As Science Daily explains, most research that uses postmortem human brain tissues to study neurological disorders does not account for postmortem cell activity. Most studies assume that everything in the brain stops when the heart stops beating, but this is not so, Loeb said. This could revolutionize the study of neurological disorders ranging from autism spectrum disorders to Alzheimers disease. Our findings dont mean that we should throw away human tissue research programs, it just means that researchers need to take into account these genetic and cellular changes, and reduce the postmortem interval as much as possible to reduce the magnitude of these changes, Loeb said.
As expected, the behavior of brain cells like glial cells in the postmortem period has far-reaching consequences. This groundbreaking understanding of gene and cell behavior can inform the study of neurological conditions. From Alzheimers disease to autism spectrum disorders, the study could revolutionize future treatments.
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Could A Final Surge In Brain Activity After Death Explain Near
In this study, the neuroscientists distinguish four distinct stages of brain death. Cardiac arrest stage 1 reflects the time between the last regular heartbeat and the loss of a oxygenated blood pulse . The next stage lasts about 6 seconds, and ends with a burst in low-frequency brain waves . The third death stage, CAS3, lasts approximately 20 seconds at which point there is no more evidence of meaningful brain activity at the final stage, CAS4.
These stages seem to reflect an organized series of distinct brain states, rather than a gradual fade out of brain activity. First, we see a sudden transition from the anaesthetised state with an increase in fast brain waves. It is as if the brain is suddenly shaken from the effects of anaesthesia at the moment of death. Next, brain activity settles into a period of slower brain waves during CAS2. Perhaps most surprisingly, recordings are then dominated in CAS3 by brain waves more commonly associated with normal wakefulness during life . In further analyses, the researchers also show that this afterlife’ brain activity is also highly coordinated across brain areas and different wavelengths. These are the neural hallmarks of high-level cognitive activity. In sum, these data suggests that long after clinical death, the brain enters a brief state of heightened activity that is normally associated with wakeful consciousness.
Heightened awareness just after death
Brain Activity Has Been Recorded As Much As 10 Minutes After Death
Doctors in a Canadian intensive care unit stumbled on a very strange case last year – when life support was turned off for four terminal patients, one of them showed persistent brain activity even after they were declared clinically dead.
For more than 10 minutes after doctors confirmed death through a range of observations, including the absence of a pulse and unreactive pupils, the patient appeared to experience the same kind of brain waves we get during deep sleep.
And it’s an entirely different phenomenon to the sudden ‘death wave’ that’s been observed in rats following decapitation.
“In one patient, single delta wave bursts persisted following the cessation of both the cardiac rhythm and arterial blood pressure ,” the team from the University of Western Ontario in Canada reported in March 2017.
They also found that death could be a unique experience for each individual, noting that across the four patients, the frontal electroencephalographic recordings of their brain activity displayed few similarities both before and after they were declared dead.
“There was a significant difference in EEG amplitude between the 30-minute period before and the 5-minute period following ABP cessation for the group,” the researchers explained.
In the absence of any biological explanation for how brain activity could possibly continue several minutes after the heart has stopped beating, the researchers said the scan could be the result of some kind of error at the time of recording.
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Neuropathological Examinations For Brains Given To Science
If you’ve donated your brain to a scientific institution for study, scientists will be cutting it up â but what they’re looking for depends very much on how you died. For instance, if you had dementia when you passed away, they’ll examine the hippocampus, midbrain and various other parts of the brain that are specifically linked to that diagnosis. Neuropathological exams aren’t one-size-fits-all, and neuropathologists in the US have to be highly qualified.
Interestingly, it may not be possible to donate your brain to one particular scientific institution and your body to another. Many medical research schools and anatomy centers â where most donated bodies end upâ like the entire body to be intact. If you really want your brain sent to one specific institution and your body to another, you’ll have to find specific centers who’ll accept this sort of arrangement.
What Physically Happens To Your Body Right After Death
It is difficult to generalize how people will respond to the subject of death because each of us is unique, but we generally feel uncomfortable at the thought of our own mortality. What often underlies this uneasiness, however, is thinking about the process of dying and the fear of a prolonged or painful death, rather than the state of being dead.
Ironically, despite spending a lifetime walking around in the same body and doing our best to care for it, few seem to wonder what happens to their physical remains right after death occurs. Here is a timeline of the processes involved, assuming the deceased remains undisturbed, including the transition from primary flaccidity to secondary flaccidity.
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin
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What Happens To Your Brain After You Die
First things first: if you really want to know what happens to your brain when you die, you’re going to need to abandon your squeamishness at the door. What I’m about to write here is necessary, important and has, in the case of medical donation and research, saved many thousands of lives â but it’s not very cute to read about. So leave your gag reflex behind.
Most peoples’ thoughts about the journey their brain undergoes after death center around the idea of near-death experiences, or whether the brain can keep going after the heart has stopped. But that is, for the great majority of us, only the beginning. After we die, our brains pass into the care of professionals who treat it with great respect, but who also may use it in various ways â and then, ultimately, it passes into the hands of nature or a crematory fire. It is dead tissue, but it was once the most crucial part of a human being, and for that reason it can go through quite a set of loops and roundabouts before being laid to rest.
Depending on your choices and those of your family and carers, your brain may be donated to science, sent out for autopsy, or simply injected with solutions for funeral preparation â and none of those options are particularly pretty or un-gruesome in practise.
So gear up, stay calm, and enjoy learning about one of the most interesting things that will ever happen to your body: death.
After Death Some Cells In Human Brain Remain Active: Report
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago analyzed gene expression in fresh brain tissue and found that gene expression in some cells actually increased after death.
In the hours after we die, certain cells in the human brain are still active. Some cells even increase their activity and grow to gargantuan proportions, according to new research from the University of Illinois Chicago.
In a newly published study in the journal Scientific Reports, the UIC researchers analyzed gene expression in fresh brain tissue — which was collected during routine brain surgery — at multiple times after removal to simulate the post-mortem interval and death. They found that gene expression in some cells actually increased after death.
These ‘zombie genes’ — those that increased expression after the post-mortem interval — were specific to one type of cell: inflammatory cells called glial cells. The researchers observed that glial cells grow and sprout long arm-like appendages for many hours after death.
“That glial cells enlarge after death isn’t too surprising given that they are inflammatory and their job is to clean things up after brain injuries like oxygen deprivation or stroke,” said Dr. Jeffrey Loeb, the John S. Garvin Professor and head of neurology and rehabilitation at the UIC College of Medicine and corresponding author on the paper.
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Brain Death Is Different From Vegetative State
The difference between brain death and a vegetative state, which can happen after extensive brain damage, is that it’s possible to recover from a vegetative state, but brain death is permanent.
Someone in a vegetative state still has a functioning brain stem, which means:
- some form of consciousness may exist
- breathing unaided is usually possible
- there’s a slim chance of recovery because the brain stem’s core functions may be unaffected
Someone in a vegetative state can show signs of being awake. For example, they may open their eyes but not respond to their surroundings.
In rare cases, a person in a vegetative state may show some sense of response that can be detected using a brain scan, but not be able to interact with their surroundings.
Hearing Persists At End Of Life
- University of British Columbia
- Hearing is widely thought to be the last sense to go in the dying process. Now, the first study to investigate hearing in palliative care patients who are close to death provides evidence that some may still be able to hear while in an unresponsive state. Electroencephalography was used to measure the dying brain’s response to sound. The findings may help family and friends bring comfort to a person in their final moments.
Hearing is widely thought to be the last sense to go in the dying process. Now UBC researchers have evidence that some people may still be able to hear while in an unresponsive state at the end of their life.
This research, published recently in Scientific Reports, is the first to investigate hearing in humans when they are close to death.
Using electroencephalography , which measures electrical activity in the brain, the researchers analyzed data collected from healthy control participants, from hospice patients when they were conscious, and from the same hospice patients when they became unresponsive. The patients were receiving palliative care at St. John Hospice in Vancouver.
This new insight into the dying brain’s response to sound can help family and friends bring comfort to a person in their final moments.
Blundon says what while the evidence of brain activity supports the idea that a dying person might be hearing, they can’t confirm whether people are aware of what they’re hearing.
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Does Your Brain Know When Youre Dead
Nov. 8, 2017 — When you die, your brain may know it.
But many people who have been resuscitated and, essentially, brought back to life — describe experiences that occurred after death. If your brain is dead, how is that possible?
âSince the 1960s, when CPR was developed and we began to be able to resuscitate people whose hearts had stopped, many of them have reported these unusual experiences in which they had full awareness, consciousness, of events going on at the time of their cardiac arrest,â says Sam Parnia, MD, PhD, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone Health in New York City. âIn many cases, those have been verified by medical and nursing staff.â
Each year, as many as 1 out of 5 people whose hearts stop will be revived. The stories that some of them share are often called near-death experiences, or NDEs. These incidents often feature tunnels leading to a bright light, spiritual encounters, meetings with deceased loved ones, and other things that seem mystical. In some cases, people whose hearts have stopped beating describe out-of-body experiences, in which they feel like theyâve left their bodies and seen the efforts to revive them.
âThese are anecdotal reports, but there are a large number of them going back decades, and these testimonies suggest that something is going on,â says Parnia.
At The Moment Of Death
We often think of the moment of death as that time at which the heartbeat and breathing stop. We are learning, however, that death isn’t instant. Our brains are now thought to continue to “work” for 10 minutes or so after we die, meaning that our brains may, in some way, be aware of our death. The research, however, is only very preliminary.
In the hospital setting, there are a few requirements doctors use to define death. These include the absence of a pulse, the absence of breathing, the absence of reflexes, and the absence of pupillary constriction in response to bright light. In an emergency setting, paramedics look for the five signs of irreversible death to determine when resuscitation not possible.
The definition of brain death includes the absence of brainstem reflexes, the inability to breathe without a ventilator, and neurologic unresponsiveness. The diagnosis is used to declare a legal death, such as before an organ donation.
After death is confirmed, the timeline of physical processes is as follows.
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Other Evidence Of After
In 2011, a research team from Radboud University in the Netherlands studied rat brains after they had been decapitated, and found there was a strange burst of brain activity in them about a minute after known as a “death wave.” This suggested the brain and heart didn’t necessarily die at the same time.
The Canadian team did not observe this wave in any of the four patients, but of course none of their heads had been removed.
In 2016, two studies examined human bodies after they died, and researchers found that 1,000 genes were still functioning in them several days after death. Even more strange, the activity of these genes actually ramped up after death, rather than slowing down.
Studies like these are interesting for medicine because they have the potential to help with the outcomes of transplant surgeries. They could also be important for understanding what happens to the body when we die, which could have implications for improving doctors’ chances of bringing people back after near-fatal accidents.
Understanding what happens after we die is intriguing, but the Canadian team stress they can’t really explain what happened in this new research. They mention in the paper that there’s a possibility of a human or equipment error that falsely showed the brain activity, but as far as they know the equipment was working properly and no-one messed up.
When You Die You Know You Are Dead: Major Study Shows Mind Still Works After The Body Shows No Signs Of Life
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Death just became even more scary: scientists say people are aware theyre dead because their consciousness continues to work after the body has stopped showing signs of life.
That means that, theoretically, someone may even hear their own death being announced by medics.
The claim was made by Dr Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City.
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Brain Cells After Death
Researchers then simulated death on these parts by letting the samples be in the open, at room temperature for various periods of time all the way up to 24 hours. During this time, the team collected info on the activity in these cells.
They found that a major chunk of genes that were responsible for basic cellular function stayed at the same level of activity for the whole 24 hours. On the other hand, the activity of neuronal genes that get activated in the neuron cells and are necessary for brain functions like memory, thought, etc., dropped gradually after 12 hours.
However, the third group of genes that are responsible for the immune and support system of the brain, dubbed glial cells actually saw a gradual rise in gene expression with the cells actually growing in size while neurons and other cells were fading out.
Researchers are of the belief that this is mostly occurring since theyre noticing the brain is deprived of oxygen and thats their go-to response. They do state however that this sheds light on how many brain researchers looking to find links for Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia might have missed out on several indicators since they thought brain cells wouldnt survive for that long.
He added, The good news from our findings is that we now know which genes and cell types are stable, which degrade, and which increase over time so that results from postmortem brain studies can be better understood.