What is the concept of brain death and how is the pupil reflex used to test for brain death?

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bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Brain death is where their is no measurable activity by the cerebral neurons contained in the brain or those of the brain stem. This is caused by oxygen deprivation, which causes the brain cells to cease respiring. When this happens, the control center for all the bodys organ systems ceases to operate. Everything that responds to stimuli delivered by the central nervous system stops operating as it normally does. The pupils in the eye is one of those functions moderated by the brain, so a failure for a persons pupils to adjust to light reactions is an indication to brain death. This standard has been adopted as the definitive standard in many states as to whether a person is truly dead or whether they are in a death-like state, such as alcohol intoxication, or a coma. People experiencing those types of health issues can survive and go on to lead healthy lives. A person whose pupils are fixed, however, do not have a healthy interchange going on between the neurons of the brain and the spinal cord.
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