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This discovery explains why boxers are more likely to faint when hit on the chin

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To understand what damage is most dangerous for the brain, scientists from the US Institute of Physics conducted a series of experiments with an egg as it resembles the brain.

Our brain consists of soft matter immersed in watery cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). All of this is inside the hard skull. Thus, the effect on the skull is transmitted through the cerebrospinal fluid layer to the soft medulla.

To understand what damage is most dangerous for the brain, scientists from the US Institute of Physics conducted a series of experiments with a similar system – an egg. It resembles the brain: the soft yolk is contained in a liquid white inside a hard shell.

In most concussions, the skull does not break. So the team tried to figure out if the egg yolk could be broken or deformed without breaking the shell. They published the results of their work in Physics of Fluids.

The researchers placed the egg in a scrambler so they could see what was happening to the yolk. Then they hit the device and rotated it. In the end, the team found that direct translational action did not damage the yolk while slowing down the rotation seriously deformed it. According to scientists, the same happens to the brain when the head is exposed to sudden external influences.

“We suspect rotational movements, especially slower rotations, are the most dangerous. Severe deformation during this process causes the neurons to stretch and damage the brain,” said Qianhong Wu, one of the authors of the work.

This discovery explains why boxers are more likely to faint when hit on the chin. “Given that the chin is the farthest point from the neck, hitting it can cause the greatest acceleration in rotation,” added the scientist.

The team said critical thinking and a couple of simple experiments in the kitchen helped study the deformation of egg yolk after exposure. 

Scientists are going to use the results of the experiment to study the biomechanics of the brain. And check other processes associated with exposure to soft capsules in a liquid medium, such as red blood cells.

This work shows the reactions of a soft object bound by a membrane to sudden external influences. Scientists believe this will be especially beneficial for manufacturers of helmets and other protective equipment.

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