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Brain Death

Alexander Klyubin no-email at no-email.net
Tue Oct 1 10:40:42 EST 2002


I have a question to those good at medicine or physiology of the brain. 
What would happen if all of the electical activity of the brain were 
stopped by some means for a short period of time. Short enough for the 
host not to die. Is it later possible to regain normal operation of the 
brain after some kind of "kick-start"?

I come from computer science background. So, please excuse me for the 
question if it's really a very simple one. Isn't this lack of electrial 
activity called brain death, from which it is not possible to recover 
even in principle?

Why this interests me is that in computer science there is such a thing, 
called Artificial Neural Network (ANN). The network consists of neurons 
which are interconnected. Now, most approaches to learning or pattern 
recognition using such networks are based on the following premise. 
Namely, that memory or adaptation is encoded *solely* into synaptic 
connections between neurons. To illustrate my question in the first 
paragraph, it is believed that you can train the ANN; then you can shut 
down all of its activity (i.e. spikes, etc. removed); then you can later 
easily restore its activity by introducing some spikes -- the network 
will remain adapted and function as before, since its interconnections 
have been preserved while it was turned off.

Although I do not know for sure, I strongly doubt that all the 
adaptation in the brain is only due to patterns of interconnections 
between neurons. I suspect that spikes and the rest of neural activity 
are even more important than neurons, dendrites, etc.

Alexander Klyubin

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