What goes on inside the heads of those in a coma has long been a mystery. Now, research suggests that brain waves during coma can be found in even the deepest stages of the unresponsive state.
From the Greek meaning of “deep sleep,” the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines a coma as a state of unconsciousness where a person is unresponsive and cannot be woken. Comas can be caused by a number of reasons including traumatic head injury, stroke, brain tumor, or even an underlying illness, such as diabetes or an infection. But what exactly does this unconscious state do to your brain?
How Does a Coma Affect the Brain?
Coma occurs when there is a serious problem with the brain’s arousal system or with its communications between other brain areas (such as the cerebral hemispheres) leading to the brain’s activity becoming impaired, according to the Journal of Neurology.
As with many mental occurrences in the brain, the mind’s biology of consciousness is very complicated and not well understood. However, some scientists believe that consciousness depends on the transmission of chemical signals from the brainstem to the cerebrum. Because these areas are connected by neural pathways called the Reticular Activating System (RAS), any interruptions to these messages can put someone into an altered state of consciousness.
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