What part of the brain gets affected and does it harm the brain? Thank you I just needed some extra info for a video I'm making.

  • $\begingroup$ unconsciousness is a broad term. Consciousness itself is a debated term too. Could you add some framework around it? Are you talking of physiological sleep, drug-induced reduced consciousness, unconsciousness caused by head trauma or otherwise? $\endgroup$ – AliceD Apr 25 '16 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ Unconsciousness induced by head trauma and drug induced reduced consciousness $\endgroup$ – MClx Apr 25 '16 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ Those represent different mechanisms of loss of consciousness. Might be better asked separately. I think this is a bit broad as is. Have you googled this? What did you find? $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Apr 25 '16 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't find anything worthwhile,just something about weed and alcohol harming the brain $\endgroup$ – MClx Apr 26 '16 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ Check out the ascending reticular activation system $\endgroup$ – Graham Chiu Apr 27 '16 at 7:13

We don't know. Disruption of cortex, thalamus, or brainstem structures (someone mentioned ascending reticular activation system) all can cause loss of consciousness. Different drugs have different mechanisms of action and some might cause different "types" of loss of consciousness - for example, ketamine and propofol seem very different, and trauma is a completely different issue.

The reason this is such a hard problem is that these structures are all interconnected, and there are likely proximate and distal causes of loss of consciousness. For an analogy, imagine you starve to death. You could make a convincing case that lack of food did it - so conclude food keeps you alive. But you weren't declared dead when you stopped eating; you were probably declared dead when your heart stopped. So conclude your heart keeps you alive. But in the middle somewhere, you had changes in ion concentrations in your blood, loss of glucose. So salts and sugars keep you alive. I can prove these are all true - take out your heart, you die. Stop feeding you, you die. Fill your arteries with KCl, you die.


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