Those old anecdotes about hair and fingernails continuing to grow after a human body dies always kinda creeped me out. (Science tells us that this is a myth, that they do not keep growing, although I have heard testimony from people who work with bodies, and read written accounts of exhumations, which maintain that yes, they do, so decide for yourselves which source to believe on this matter.) The idea that part of a person is still alive after said person is declared officially dead has got a little of the ick factor to it, don’t you think? But regardless of whether hair and nails continue to grow after clinical death, we know for certain that there are certain parts of a body that remain alive and functioning after an individual has died. Certain cells in the brain, for example.
From the article: “We found that 1427 genes could be clustered. One cluster of 317 rapidly declining genes was predicted to be neuronal and strongly overlapped with the activity-dependent genes. A second cluster of 474 genes was predicted to be glial, including astrocytes and microglia. Remarkably, as the neuronal cell cluster rapidly fell, there was a reciprocal and dramatic increase in the expression of the glial cell cluster.”
If you just read that and you’re saying to yourself, “What the hell did that mean?”, you’re not alone. I did the same. The gist of it is that, when certain cells in the brain start to shut down (i.e. die) there are other cells that ramp up. These latter cells are there to repair and mitigate damage in the brain. It’s just that they’re fighting a losing battle with a dying brain. They go down swinging, trying to get the brain functioning again, but alas, the effort is in vain. Just imagine, though, if those cells *did* manage to repair a dying brain to the point that it was able to function on a rudimentary level. We’re talking total zombification, here!