Neural dynamics during anoxia and the "wave of death"

Bas-Jan Zandt, B. Zandt, Bernard ten Haken, J. Gert van Dijk, Michel Johannes Antonius Maria van Putten

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36 Citations (Scopus)
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Recent experiments in rats have shown the occurrence of a high amplitude slow brain wave in the EEG approximately 1 minute after decapitation, with a duration of 5–15 s (van Rijn et al, PLoS One 6, e16514, 2011) that was presumed to signify the death of brain neurons. We present a computational model of a single neuron and its intra- and extracellular ion concentrations, which shows the physiological mechanism for this observation. The wave is caused by membrane potential oscillations, that occur after the cessation of activity of the sodium-potassium pumps has lead to an excess of extracellular potassium. These oscillations can be described by the Hodgkin-Huxley equations for the sodium and potassium channels, and result in a sudden change in mean membrane voltage. In combination with a high-pass filter, this sudden depolarization leads to a wave in the EEG. We discuss that this process is not necessarily irreversible
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e22127-
Number of pages6
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • METIS-281869
  • IR-77793


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