Fast zombie brain vs. slow zombie brain (Credit: Zombie Research Society)
Neuroscientists Bradley Voytek and Timothy Verstynen of the Zombie Research Society have begun a multi-part examination of the neuroscience of the zombie brain. Each part will focus on one key aspect of what makes a zombie, and develop a brain model that explains such zombie behavior.The introduction to the project describes their methodology:
Neuroscience has shown that all thoughts and behaviors are associated with neural activity within the brain. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the zombie brain would look and function differently than the gray matter contained in your skull. Yet, how would one know what a zombie brain looks like?
Luckily, the rich repertoire of behavioral symptoms shown in cinema gives the astute neuroscientist or neurologist clues as to the anatomical and physiological underpinnings of zombie behavior. By taking a forensic neuroscience approach, we can piece together a hypothetical picture of the zombie brain.
So far, they’ve examined two key symptoms of the zombie epidemic. Dr. Voytek has examined the the aggression of zombies, and notes that the most likely explanation for this behavior is a lack of a functioning orbitofrontal cortex. Dr. Verstynen examined the gait of zombies, and has differentiated between “fast” and “slow” zombies. “Slow” zombies likely suffer from damage to the cerebellum, leading to their lumbering, uncoordinated style of movement. “Fast” zombies, by contrast, appear to have no such difficulties.
More symptoms will be analyzed and explained from a neuroscience viewpoint over the coming weeks, so be sure to stay tuned to Oscillatory Thoughts and The Cognitive Axon over the course of the next few days. For more about what to do in the event of a zombie outbreak, the CDC has basic preparedness on their website here, and has a comic book on zombie preparedness here. For more background on Dr. Voytek’s neuroscience research, check out my interview with him here.
Explaining the Neuroscience of the Zombie Epidemic – Forbes