In a revolutionary discovery researchers are now able to see clearer images of what transpires inside a person's brain when they lose consciousness. These images, produced by 3-D imaging, illuminated for doctors and scientists what goes on inside the brain when it falls out of consciousness.
The study was conducted on 20 individuals who were given an anesthetic drug and researchers watched what occurred as the medication put the volunteer into unconsciousness. To observe, 32 electrodes were attached to the individuals' heads and these electrodes monitored brain electrical activity at a rapid rate, 100 times per second.
Science Daily reports "A small, high-frequency electric current (too small to be felt or have any effect) is passed between two of the electrodes, and the voltages between other pairs of electrodes are measured in a process that takes less than one thousandth of a second."
Brian Pollard, study researcher from the University of Manchester said "We have produced what I think is the first video in existence in the entire world of [the brain of] a patient being anesthetized," Pollard also said, "We are seeing different parts of the brain, different areas, being activated and deactivated."
Live Science reported the 3-D images "[suggest] the mysterious sleeplike state occurs as electrical activity deep in the brain dims and connections between certain neurons suddenly break down."
When an individual falls unconscious, not much is known about what occurs inside a person's head or how it happens. What is known that the brain is no longer responsive to the body's surroundings and ceases to react, but beyond this it is largely a mystery. 3-D imaging and other progressive technologies may offer clues to researchers now that scientists can actually see what the images reveal in terms of the brain's reactions and the electrical activity that occurs. Right now experts are not exactly sure what the images mean, however as they now have the tools to utilize and study real-time situations with more clarity, perhaps some answers can be revealed.
Utilizing technology to develop diagnostic and study tools could eventually be beneficial in learning more about the brain and, in due course, perhaps be instrumental to determine treatments for brain wounds such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke or forms of cognitive deterioration.
The brain has long been a mystery, with injuries such as TBI, only seeing a wider span of awareness in the last decade.
Researchers presented their findings at the European Anaesthesiology Congress in Amsterdam on June 11.