Life after death? Patient's brain continues to function 10 minutes after death, baffling scientists!

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Life after death? Patient's brain continues to function 10 minutes after death, baffling scientists!

Posted on : Monday 13th of March 2017

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The human brain is a complex organ that still presents many puzzles for experts in the field of medicine.

Unveiling one of the many mysteries of the brain, scientists have discovered that the human brain shows signs of life for 10 minutes post a person's death.

Doctors in a Canadian intensive care unit (ICU) withdrew life support from four critically ill patients witnessed a strange occurrence.

The brain activity in three out of the four patients initially ceased, followed by their heart beat and blood pressure. In medical terms, a person is declared 'clinically dead' when there's no response in terms of their respiration and blood circulation.

The fourth patient in this case, however, reacted in a different way that has changed the way doctors think. Persistent brain activity is what showed up for up to 10 minutes after the final heartbeat.

In a study published this week in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, researchers said that the fourth patient's brain continued to fire off bursts of delta waves even after the person was declared dead.

According to Mashable.com, the researchers said they can't really explain what happened. Perhaps there was a human or equipment error that falsely simulated brain activity at the time of recording — though there's no sign that either a person or machine messed up.

"It is difficult to posit a physiological basis for this EEG [electroencephalographic] activity, given that it occurs after a prolonged loss of circulation," Loretta Norton and her colleagues of the University of Western Ontario wrote.

The study was conducted with an aim to learn how a human body responds when taken off life support, which would further help answer questions regarding organ donation.

Without a firm explanation, and given the tiny sample size — that is, one patient — the doctors couldn't come up with any definitive conclusions about what their findings mean, except to say that more research is required, Mashable.com reported.

"Further study of the [EEG] during the withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies will add clarity to medical, ethical and legal concerns for donation after circulatory determined death," they said. 

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