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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What happens in the brain when the heart stops?

"A research project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF is now set to provide scientific insights into one of these still unsolved mysteries: what goes on in the brain of people who are on the brink of death due to cardiac arrest and have memories of the time when their heart had stopped after resuscitation? Although a very rare occurrence, such experiences are reported from time to time. From a scientific point of view they are hard to explain, since electrical activity in the brain ceases seconds after the blood supply is interrupted – or does it? Scientists are still at a loss, but project head Roland Beisteiner is convinced that there are explanations for such events. "Although no comprehensive evidence of brain activity during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has been found so far, this doesn't mean that it doesn't exist", observes the neurologist from the Medical University of Vienna and explains that an increasing amount of data, for instance from coma patients or the realm of anesthesia, points to the fact that the brain has great capacities for regeneration and information processing invisible to outside observers."