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Death-Bringing 'Brain Tsunamis' Have Been Observed in Humans For The First Time

For the first time, researchers have been able to study the moment brain death becomes irreversible in the human body, observing the phenomenon in several Do Not Resuscitate patients as they died in hospital.

For years, scientists have researched what happens to your brain when you die, but despite everything we've found out, progress has been stymied by an inability to easily monitor human death – since physicians are conventionally obliged to prevent death if they can, not monitor it as it takes hold.

What this means is most of our understanding of the processes involved in brain death come from animal experiments, strengthened with what we can glean from the accounts of resuscitated patients disclosing their near-death experiences.

Now, an international team of scientists looks to have made a breakthrough.

In animals, within 20 to 40 seconds of oxygen deprivation, the brain enters an 'energy-saving mode' where it becomes electrically inactive and neurons cease communicating with one another.

After a few minutes, the brain begins to break down as ion gradients in cells dissipate, and a wave of electrochemical energy – called a spreading depolarisation (or 'brain tsunami') spreads throughout the cortex and other brain regions, ultimately causing irreversible brain damage.

But a team led by neurologist Jens Dreier from Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany - who monitored these processes taking place in nine patients with devastating brain injuries (under Do Not Resuscitate – Comfort Care orders) – say the tsunami of brain death may actually be capable of being stopped.

"After circulatory arrest, spreading depolarisation marks the loss of stored electrochemical energy in brain cells and the onset of toxic processes that eventually lead to death," Dreier explains.

"Importantly, it is reversible – up to a point – when the circulation is restored."

Using neuro-monitoring technology called subdural electrode strips and intraparenchymal electrode arrays, the researchers monitored spreading depolarisation in the patients' brains, and they suggest it's not a one-way wave – as long as circulation (and thus oxygen supply) can be resumed to the brain.

"Anoxia-triggered [spreading depolarisation] is fully reversible without any signs of cellular damage, if the oxidative substrate supply is re-established before the so-called commitment point, defined as the time when neurons start dying under persistent depolarisation," the authors explain in their paper.

For patients at risk of brain damage or death incurred through cerebral ischemiaor other kinds of stroke, the findings could one day be a life-saver, although the researchers explain a lot more work is needed before physicians will be able to take advantage of these discoveries.

"There are no direct implications for patient care today," Dreier sayspointing outmore observations will be essential to understand what's really going on here.

"Knowledge of the processes involved in spreading depolarisation is fundamental to the development of additional treatment strategies aimed at prolonging the survival of nerve cells when brain perfusion is disrupted."

The findings are reported in Annals of Neurology.

/ About us

Founded by Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov in February 2011 with the participation of leading Russian specialists in the field of neural interfaces, robotics, artificial organs and systems.

The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies. 

The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.

A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.

The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.

An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.


Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society


The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.


Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning  bodily life. Such technologies will  greatly enlarge  the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make  all  kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.


Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness  with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness  onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of  cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence,  expand human capabilities  and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times.  The final result  at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.


This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive!  Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.

Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots  will become affordable  and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however:  humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover,  prerequisites for a large-scale  expansion into outer space will be created as well.


Key elements of the project in the future

• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of  the project of "Immortality”.

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