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What happens in the brain when you lose consciousness?

So, what happens in the brain that neurons decide that the brain should cope with the problem without the human himself? I was in a car accident some time ago and i was unconscious for like 15 mins till the ambulance came. I lost consciousness when i fell from the bonnet to the ground and hit my head. Today i was wondering – how the brain decides that it needs to switch off? I suppose the conciousness and the changes of it is controlled by the medulla.. But is it the hit, the pain or the shock of the whole situation that makes the neurons decide what to do?
I’d like to hear a scientiffic explanation.
Oh, i just realized that it could be due to too heavy stimulation of the neurons or of too big number of neurons stimulated at once?
Thanks for everyone answering

3 COMMENTS

  1. Wow…this is too deep for me. In layman terms, I think the brain shuts off to protect you from the pain of the memory—something that IS a ‘switch-off’ (involuntary on your part, voluntary on the brain’s part…if you will).
    Now when the brain has a “blackout” as in being DRUNK….that’s different. A Blackout DESTROYS part of the brain—-& the first part to be destroyed is the area of the brain that affects ‘judgment’. I don’t know, but I don’t think this is a ‘switch-off’—I think it’s a chemical RESULT. Enough of those blackouts and you have no common sence whatsoever. I think it’s called being “Stupified”. (bibble bibble bibble) .
    I think what happened to you was your brain was protecting you from terrible trauma (memories)—and that’s a GOOD thing.

  2. You’ve pretty much figured out the answer. I can just underline what you’ve said already.
    The process of taking day-to-day events and “storing” them where they can be accessed later is the job of the hippocampus. This area of the brain gets “tags” from various sensations that say, “Hey, this is something you’ll want later”.
    The process of moving short-term, or “scratchpad” memory, into “long-term” memory is called _consolidation_.
    When faced with an overwhelming stimulus, or one that has no context in which it can be placed, then the “tagging” and “consolidation” systems can become overwhelmed, or just not know what to do. No consolidation means no long-term memory of the event.
    It is common, after an accident, to have what is called a “retrograde amnesia”. The more severe the emotional trauma, the longer (in general) the period of amnesia for things *before* the event in question. So, a particularly nasty shock might result in amnesia for everything that happened that day.

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