Our brain is a wonder of nature. The control center in our head makes us who we are: It controls our thinking, our movements, processes sensory impressions and regulates our basic body functions. Unfortunately, our most important organ is also very sensitive: without oxygen it is irreparably damaged within a few minutes. But the latest research results show that the brain may be more robust than previously thought.
Brains revived from dead pigs
Researchers at Yale University have succeeded in reactivating certain brain processes of pigs several hours after their death. For their experiment, the scientists took the brains of 32 slaughtered pigs and connected them to a machine called BrainEx. She supplied the brains with a kind of artificial blood, which is supposed to prevent the death of brain cells.
And indeed, although the pig brains were not connected to the device until four hours after death, some brain activity was detected again within the six-hour test period. The supply of the blood vessels, for example, began again and individually examined nerve cells even reacted to external stimuli after the end of the experiment.
The brain is thus able to regenerate itself over a much longer period of time than previously thought – but only partially. The scientists were unable to observe what makes up our consciousness – namely the coordinated communication of the nerve cells with each other – in the pig brains studied. On the contrary: Since a perceptive brain outside of its body is ethically highly questionable, certain substances in the fluid should prevent such activities.
Although the research project cannot provide an answer to the question of a possible life after brain death, BrainEx could be of great benefit in the research of brain diseases and perhaps one day for their cure.