Scientists in the United States have demonstrated that light-sensitive neurons in the retina are still able to respond to light and communicate with each other up to 5 hours after death, sending signals “similar to those recorded by living organisms”.
Crucially, these neurons form part of the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, providing the possibility for other cells in the central nervous system to similarly restore and possibly restore consciousness.
The study authors said in the journal “Nature” that the study “raises the question whether brain death, as it is currently known, is really irreversible,” according to the “Telegraph” website.
“We were able to awaken the photoreceptor cells in the human eye, the part of the retina responsible for our central vision and our ability to see. Fine detail and color discrimination,” said lead researcher Fatima Abbas, of the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah.
“In eyes obtained up to 5 hours after the death of the organ donor, these cells responded to bright light, colored lights, and even very faint flashes of light.”