Suspended (but No Animation) White’s Isolated Brain Experiments

NCJ_cover.jpgBy Eelco F. M. Wijdicks MD, PhD

First Online: 27 January 2020

Decapitation—and what it means for the brain—was back in the news. Vrselja and his coworkers from Yale use a decapitated pig brain and, after connecting to extracorporeal perfusion system, were able to postpone biochemical decline and swelling with a preservative called BrainEx (i.e., synthetic, hemoglobin-based, cytoprotective perfusate and consisting of vitamins and minerals) [1]. The brains, 4 h after their heads were severed from the slaughterhouse, were connected to the device—through the carotid arteries only—for about 10 h. The researchers found that individual neurons were still able to “function.” What is more, the cells showed certain functions including the release of various substances. And yet, the impact of this finding was, by no means, clear cut.

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