AUG 09, 2016 12:20 PM PDT

Death, as Determined by the Brain

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

It's said that the brain is the master organ of the body, as it controls nearly all of our physiological and psychological processes. Even the most primitive reflex of breathing is controlled by the brain, in an area known as the brain stem. But what happens when the brain is considered "dead?" How does the body able to seemingly go on when its master control has irreversibly expired?

A person is declared brain dead when doctors determine there's no more electrical activity in the brain or the brain stem. This means the communication lines between the brain and other vital organs, like the heart and lungs are permanently cut off. The patient's body may be able to sustain life temporarily after the brain dies, but this compensation wears out usually within an hour. But, with current technology, the body of a brain-dead patient may keep functioning, at a minimum for a while.

For some, having a working body with the help of equipment isn't equal to being alive. As Kenneth Goodman, director of the Bioethics Program at the University of Miami explained, "If you're brain-dead, you're dead, but [with technology], we can make the body do some of the things it used to do when you were alive." Watch the video to find out how medical advances are still unable to replace the brain in sustaining a body.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Our Chemistry Connection to Stars and the Cosmo
NOV 27, 2020
Our Chemistry Connection to Stars and the Cosmo
A common entity that connects everything from majestically looking galaxies and nebula to the enormously diversified bio ...
FEB 19, 2021
Plants & Animals
What can Lemurs Teach us About Love?
FEB 19, 2021
What can Lemurs Teach us About Love?
Although not entirely accurate, romantic sentiments such as "you're my lobster" or "you're my pen ...
FEB 20, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
FEB 20, 2021
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
NASA scientists have confirmed that their car-sized Perseverance Mars rover is 'healthy' following its arrival o ...
MAR 03, 2021
Plants & Animals
Can Arctic Bearded Seals Compete with Human Noise?
MAR 03, 2021
Can Arctic Bearded Seals Compete with Human Noise?
Vocal communication is a primary key to survival for many species, including the Arctic Ocean's bearded seals. Accor ...
MAR 06, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Find Tectonic Activity on Exoplanet
MAR 06, 2021
Astronomers Find Tectonic Activity on Exoplanet
For the first time, researchers from the University of Bern in Switzerland have found evidence of tectonic activity on a ...
MAR 23, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Implementing Illumina NGS is a lot easier than you think.
MAR 23, 2021
Implementing Illumina NGS is a lot easier than you think.
Dr. John-Sebastian Eden is a Virologist at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. His group u ...
Loading Comments...