processing capability of the spinal cord
rsnorman at mw.mediaone.net
Sun Dec 6 23:07:34 EST 1998
Walter Eric Johnson wrote in message <74fao4$ov0$1 at news.tamu.edu>...
>I wonder what neural processes in humans might continue for a little
>while past death. Would the loss of blood supply pretty much shut
>down the neurons in the spinal column about as fast as we lose
>consciousness? How long do we maintain reflexes? For example,
>how long after death would one find the Babinski reflex?
I am not clinical and can't comment on how long the spinal cord
might last. I am sure this must be well known.
However, "death" has many meanings. Peripheral tissues live for
a substantial time after the "person" is gone. In fact, you can't
transplant an organ that is "dead", the cells must retain vital.
I would guess that, given a good circulatory system and keeping
the body well ventilated on artificial respirators, the spinal cord
might last as long as the heart -- that is, as long as aerated blood
with a decent glucose level and proper pH and electrolyte balance
continues. That means that spinal reflexes might persist.
The Babinski reflex is different -- a normal response requires
an intact pyramidal system, that is, motor cortex. It would go
along with the rest of the brain.
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